Friday, December 14, 2007

Sea Games: Karate exponents chop down another four gold medals

THE Malaysian karate squad continued their onslaught at the Chanapolkhan Institute of Technology in Korat yesterday, delivering four gold medals for the second consecutive day.

S. Mahendran (men’s below 75kg), Lim Yoke Wai (men’s Open), G. Yamini (women’s Open) and Jamalliah Jamalludin (women’s over 60kg) all struck gold in their kumite events to bring the team’s haul to eight.

With the men’s and women’s team events remaining today, the team are in with a shot to cap off their fine run in Korat by improving on the best haul of 9-3-6 achieved in the 2001 KL Games.

In the morning’s competition, only a single punch was thrown in the entire bout of the men’s under 75kg final.

Glittering feat: (from left) S. Mahendran, Jamalliah Jamalludin and G. Yamini showing off their gold medals after winning their respective kumite events in the karate competition at the Chanapolkhan Institute of Technology in Korat yesterday.
The punch thrown by Mahendran 11 seconds into sudden death period hit Indonesian Cristo Mondolu and it landed gold for the Malaysian.

Mahendran won 1-0 in the highly tactical and unusual final that saw both exponents not making a single move throughout the three-minute regulation period.

He thanked national chief coach P. Arivalagan for plotting the strategy.

“Ari told me not to go rushing in and only to hit back when the Indonesian attacked. But my opponent was also playing mind games by being reluctant to go on the offensive.

“In the end, the final had to be decided by a single punch,” said Mahendran.

The win lifted a huge burden off Mahendran’s shoulders as he had not won in a major tournament since triumphing in the same event at the 2003 Hanoi SEA Games.

“It is a huge relief to finally get a big win after four years. I always failed before this because I pushed too hard to win. I did not put any pressure on myself and did not think of the gold medal until the very end,” he said.

In the afternoon session, Yoke Wai created history by becoming the first Malaysian exponent to win two individual gold medals at the same Games.

Yoke Wai overturned a losing position against Indonesia’s Yulisar Motuty in the men’s Open final to emerge as the champion, adding to his triumph in the under 65kg competition on Wednesday.

Yulisar was leading 3-1 with less than 90 seconds to go before Yoke Wai took charge completely and pummelled his opponent to carve out a 6-3 victory.

“Although I was trailing, there was never any doubt in my mind that I was the better fighter,” he said.

“I had to wait for six years to get my first SEA Games gold and it took me another 24 hours to get the second. Hopefully, I can create history again tomorrow by bagging my third gold in the team event.”

Yamini recovered from the heartbreak of losing the women’s under 60kg final in the morning to triumph in the much tougher Open category competition.

The Asian Championships gold medallist was in tears after going down 3-4 to Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Hai Yen in the morning’s final. But she bounced back to beat Myanmar’s Ohn Mar Pyo 5-3 in the Open final.

“I was upset over the defeat in the morning. But I managed to cast it aside to concentrate on the Open final.

“I am happy to make amends and bag my first SEA Games gold medal,” said Yamini, who celebrated her 27th birthday on Wednesday.

An unexpected gold was delivered by Jamalliah, who downed Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Nga in the women’s over 60kg final.

“After two years in the senior squad, I am happy to have finally bagged my first major victory. My secret to success here was remaining cool in all my fights. My coaches told me to treat the SEA Games just like any other tournament and adopting such a low-key attitude worked well for me,” said the 23-year-old.

Her younger brother, Shahruddin, settled for the bronze in the men’s below 70kg competition.

Two other Malaysian kumite exponents in action yesterday, 2005 Manila Games gold medallist L. Kunasilan and Julian Jarvis, finished empty-handed in the men’s under 60kg and over 75kg categories respectively.


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