Real kick for the martial arts team

High kicker: Puvaneswaran is confident his gold medal winning experience will put him in good stead to improve Malaysian karate.

PETALING JAYA: As the first Malaysian karate exponent to win a World Cup gold medal, R. Puvaneswaran knows what it’s like to succeed at the highest stage.

And the two-time Asian Games champion will now share his expertise as Malaysia’s new national coach.

Malaysian Karate Federation (Makaf) have been impressed with the work Puvaneswaran had done in building up the Thailand karate team over the last few years and they have offered him a coaching role, which will be officially announced soon.

Makaf are looking at locals to be in charge of the national coaching set-up after deciding not to extend the contract of their current coach Ali Reza Souleymani of Iran.

Makaf deputy president Datuk Vincent Chen said Puvaneswaran’s appointment will be finalised after a joint working committee meeting with the National Sports Council (NSC) after the movement control order (MCO) ends next month.

For Puvaneswaran, it will be the second coaching stint with the national team as he was in charge of the back-up squad for three years until 2015.

He joined Thailand after that and managed to secure a bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia while Malaysia failed to defe nd the two gold medals won at the last two Asiad editions in Guangzhou (2010) and Incheon (2014).

Puvaneswaran last worked with the Thailand team at the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines and he was even approached by Sri Lanka to help prepare the team for the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou.

“But I have agreed to become a coach with the Malaysian karate team but it will only be confirmed after the NSC-Makaf joint working committee meeting, ” said Puvaneswaran.

“Everything has been put on hold because of the MCO, so I can only hope for the situation to get better.

“The reason I am coming back to work as a coach with Malaysian karate is to contribute my services as I believe I can offer a lot with my experience, ” said the 46-year-old.

Puvaneswaran, who is the only Malaysian to win two gold medals in Asiad – 2002 (Busan) and 2010 (Guangzhou), will be one of the three local coaches in the national set-up. The others are former SEA Games gold medallist S. Mahendran and Alex Arlanthu.

Puvaneswaran said he has no problems working together with Mahendran and Arlanthu.

“Both were my colleagues in the national team before. We went through a lot together and we think alike a lot. The work is easier when you are ‘sama kepala’ (on the same wavelength), ” added the three-time Asian Championships winner.

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