The team certainly have a lot to look forward to after achieving their best-ever result in the just concluded Asian Championships in Nilai but Arivalagan is wary of over-confidence in the SEA Games.
In the Asian meet, Malaysia bagged four gold medals in the kumite through R. Puvaneswaran (men’s below 48kg), Lim Yoke Wai (men’s below 65kg), Vasantha Marial (women’s below 48kg) and G. Yamini (women’s Open) and finished second in the standings for the first time behind Japan.
Malaysia also bagged five silver and four bronze medals in the three-day competition.
“I have to thank the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) for having faith in us,” said Arivalagan. “I have a good team of exponents who are dedicated and determined to succeed. They sacrificed their weekends and holidays in the weeks leading to the Asian Championships and their efforts paid off.
“I will have the same team for the SEA Games and we will try to achieve better results than we did in Manila two years ago. But the SEA Games have their own rules and certain things are beyond our control.”
Arivalagan has learnt from the lessons in Manila. Then, he expected the team to win up to seven of the 19 gold medals at stake but they ended up with a haul of 4-8-4.
While the seniors have proved that they could be depended on, Arivalagan said that it was also important for the youngsters to come up at the same time.
Among the younger exponents who showed their potential in the Asian meet and have the potential to shine in the SEA Games are Shaharuddin Jamaluddin, G. Yugneswary and Jamaliah Jamaludin.
Shaharuddin and Jamaliah, who are siblings, competed at a senior level competition for the first time in Nilai and won the bronze in the men’s below 75kg and women’s above 60kg kumite competitions respectively.
“The SEA Games should be about development. We have to groom the younger exponents to come up to par with the seniors,” said Arivalagan.
In a bid to meet this objective, the juniors will get to compete in the Istanbul and German Opens next month.
“They will go in separate groups for the European competitions. Previously, we only sent the seniors but it’s time we start exposing the younger ones too,” he said.