New Straits Times - - Sport -

both reign­ing Asian Games cham­pi­ons, will be look­ing to put on a show in front of their home fans at the Kuala Lumpur Con­ven­tion Cen­tre on Aug 22-24.

Malaysia have al­ways done well in karate when­ever the Sea Games has been staged on home soil, rack­ing up nine gold medals in 2001 and seven gold in 1989.

Syakilla, one of four in­di­vid­ual gold medal­lists from 2013 back in the squad, is a strong favourite in the women's be­low-5 55kg event af­ter win­ning the be­low-61kg ti­tle four years ago.

The 2014 World Cham­pi­onships sil­ver medal­list has just re­cov­ered from el­bow surgery and in her sec­ond com­pe­ti­tion back, claimed a bronze medal at the Asian Cham­pi­onships last month.

Prior to her in­jury, Syakilla had been in her best form in 2016 when she fin­ished top of the Pre­mier League stand­ings in her event while win­ning the Dubai Pre­mier League Karate1 meet and achieved podium fin­ishes in Salzburg, Ham­burg (both sil­ver) and Is­tan­bul (bronze).

Also re­turn­ing af­ter gold medal suc­cess at the 2013 Sea Games are S. Senthilku­maran (men's be­low-60kg) Sports Min­is­ter Khairy Ja­malud­din and guests watch­ing karate ex­po­nents in ac­tion dur­ing Olympic Day cel­e­bra­tion at KL Sen­tral on June 23.

and S. Shree Sharmini, who drops from the women's be­low-68kg to the be­low-50kg cat­e­gory.

Chee Wei will be de­fend­ing his in­di­vid­ual kata gold medal and will also link up with Emmanuel Leong and Thom­soe Hoe in an at­tempt to re­tain the team ti­tle.

R. Shar­men­dran is an­other gold medal prospect in the men's be­low-75kg event af­ter reach­ing the semi-fi­nals of the Asian Cham­pi­onships in As­tana, Kaza­khstan, where he beat a 15thranked

Ja­panese along the way.

While the Malaysian Karate Fed­er­a­tion have set a six-gold tar­get, that could be ex­ceeded if the coun­try re­gains the men's ku­mite team ti­tle for the first time in 26 years.

They missed out on gold in 2013 af­ter a 3-1 de­feat to Thai­land in the fi­nal.

The women's ku­mite team did win gold and Syakilla will be bid­ding for an­other gold medal dou­ble when she leads the team out for the event again.

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