Sharmendran bulks up for gold
IN a bid to land his first Sea Games gold medal, national karate exponent R. Sharmendran has packed on the pounds to boost his chances in Kuala Lumpur later this month.
Sharmendran made the move up to the below-75kg category only this year after winning silver in the below-67kg event at the 2013 Sea Games in Naypyidaw, where the sport was last held. The 25-year-old Sharmendran has had to adapt quickly in a matter of months to his new event and become accustomed to fighting heavier and bigger opponents.
The transition has not always been easy as he won only two matches in three Karate1 Premier League outings in Paris, Rotterdam and Dubai.
But Sharmendran is now ready for his gold medal assault after reaching the Asian Championships semi-finals in Astana, Kazakhstan last month and winning a bronze medal.
"This is my second Sea Games. In Myanmar, I was 21 at the time and it was my first experience but I got two silver, in the team and individual," said Sharmendran, ranked 52nd in the world.
"This year has been good after moving up a category from 67kg to 75kg. It took time for me to adapt because it is a heavier category and my opponents are bigger.
"It's a totally different situation because I knew everyone in 67kg category but in the new event I have to study my opponents again."
Sharmendran is confident of winning gold when the karate competition takes place on Aug 22-24 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre after his success at the Southeast Asian Championships in Port Dickson last year during a brief foray into the below-75kg event.
"I won at 75kg gold in Port Dickosn and performing well at the Asian Championships was a good sign for me," said Sharmendran.
"I hope to bring that form to the Sea Games. I won't take it easy, everyone comes here to fight and they won't make it easy for us to win. We're at home, we have to prove it and go all out. Nothing less than gold is acceptable and I will do my best. But I cannot be overconfident."
A World Cup winner in 2014, Sharmendran's confidence has been boosted by defeating Japan's World No 15 Ken Nishimura 1-0 in Astana before losing on countback in the semifinals against Bahman Asgari Ghoncheh of Iran.
"It was not easy beating the Japanese who has won several Karate1 Premier League titles," said Sharmendran.
"I stuck to the plan and followed the coach's instructions. In the semi-finals, I was down 3-0 and then came back to 3-3 but under the new rules whoever scored first will be declared the winner (in the event of a tie)."
R. Sharmendran (left) and M. Mathivani are bent on winning gold for Malaysia