OUT TO IM­PRESS

New Straits Times - - Sport -

cat­e­gories which re­main open.

These in­clude the men’s ku­mite be­low-67kg event where for­mer Sea Games gold medal­list Sha­harudin Jamaludin is look­ing to book a berth.

Sha­harudin, who won gold in 2011 in Jakarta and has three sil­ver and three bronze medals from four pre­vi­ous Sea Games ap­pear­ances, is hop­ing to earn se­lec­tion by suc­cess­fully de­fend­ing his na­tional ti­tle.

“I’m ex­cited to have a chance at qual­i­fy­ing for the Sea Games and I know I will have to do well at the Na­tional Cham­pi­onships,” Sha­harudin, 29, who was side­lined with a shoul­der in­jury for nearly two years af­ter the 2013 Sea Games, told Time­s­port yes­ter­day.

“Many of the com­peti­tors here are in good shape while I still need to im­prove phys­i­cally. But tech­ni­cally I’m good and that was how I won last year.”

It is ef­fec­tively a straight fight be­tween Hayashi Ha’s Sha­harudin and R. Gov­inash of Shorin-Ryu for the be­low-67kg spot.

How­ever, nei­ther fighter did their cause for the Sea Games any good at the South­east Asian Karate Cham­pi­onships ear­lier this month when they lost in their open­ing bouts to Viet­namese op­po­si­tion.

This means who­ever wins the na­tional ti­tle this week­end stands a good chance of com­pet­ing at the Sea Games when the Malaysian Karate Fed­er­a­tion’s (Makaf) se­lec­tion com­mit­tee meets next week.

“The Sea Games squad prac­ti­cally picks it­self but there are a cou­ple of cat­e­gories where we still have va­can­cies,” said Makaf sec­re­tary-gen­eral Vin­cent Chen.

“The Na­tional Cham­pi­onships will be the fi­nal chance for those bor­der­line cases and the win­ners will have a good chance of be­ing se­lected.”

The other cat­e­gory still open for se­lec­tion is the women’s over68kg where Hayashi Ha’s Nas­tenka Sure­shar, the 2015 Com­mon­wealth Cham­pi­onships win­ner in the Un­der-21 be­low-61kg event, will be bid­ing to win the event af­ter launch­ing a crowd­fund­ing drive to sup­port her sport­ing am­bi­tion.

Mean­while, the se­nior ex­po­nents came up empty-handed at the Is­lamic Sol­i­dar­ity Games in Azer­bai­jan when the karate com­pe­ti­tion was held last week­end.

Only R. Shar­men­dran (men’s be­low-75kg) and women’s kata ex­po­nent Ce­line Lee reached the semi-fi­nals of their re­spec­tive events be­fore fall­ing in the fi­nal bronze medal repechage, a fate which was also met by 2014 Asian Games kata gold medal­list Lim Chee Wei.

Syakilla Salni Je­fry Kr­ish­nan’s come­back from el­bow surgery ended pre­ma­turely in the women’s be­low-55kg while S. Senthil Ku­maran (men’s be­low-60kg) and S. Shree Sharmini (women’s be­low-50kg) were also ousted early.

The 2014 Asian Games kata gold medal­list Lim Chee Wei failed to reach the fi­nal at the Is­lamic Sol­i­dar­ity Games in Azer­bai­jan last week­end.

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