NINH BINH, May 20 — It was a day of double joy for the national karate squad at the Hanoi SEA Games when they not only helped the Malaysian contingent achieve their 36-gold target but also ended their 29-year wait for glory in the men’s team kumite event here today.
The victory came at the Sports Competition Centre in the Ninh Binh Province here after the national team, comprising S. Prem Kumar, Sureeya Sankar Hari Sankar, S. Geerijaieswaran Pillai, Muhammad Arif Afifuddin Ab Malik, V. Kueggan, G. Kathish and R. Sharmendran, downed Indonesia 3-0 in the final.
Prem Kumar, Sharmendran and Sureeya Sankar delivered the points that allowed Malaysia to win 3-0 and help the national contingent achieve their 36-gold target.
However, the national team had to endure some anxious moments earlier during their semi-final clash against Vietnam when they were denied victory before Malaysia lodged an official protest and the result was overturned.
“We are very happy to win the gold medal after 29 years, we have been waiting for this moment. We did it! This gold is not for me, it’s for us, for Malaysia, for Karate Malaysia and for MAKAF (Malaysian Karate Federation),” Prem Kumar told reporters here.
“At that moment (in the semi-finals), the technical (committee made a) mistake (and we protested)… we just blocked it out, and finally (even) before we entered the tatami, we (had) already won because our mentality was on fire like we really needed this… after many years, we made the final, (and) finally we did it,” he added.
Meanwhile, chef de mission Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad thanked the karate squad for ensuring the national contingent achieved the targeted 36-gold tally.
“This is a perfect situation where the sport where I am the (MAKAF) secretary-general and, as the chef de mission, has helped me meet the target set by the Youth and Sports Minister,” he said.
He hoped that today’s success would motivate the other athletes to continue their quest for more gold medals in the biennial Games, which will end on Monday (May 23).