MANILA: Karate exponent, R. Sharmendran fought a long battle to retain his men’s under-75kg kumite (sparring) SEA Games gold medal at the World Trade Center here, today.
The-27-year-old’s valiant fight was not only in the ring, but off the ring as well after being forced to overcome a year-long mental and physical challenge following his right knee injury and surgery in December 2018.
Back from surgery and conditioning in August this year, the 2014 Karate1 World Cup champion only had four months and an only one tournament to prepare for the biennial games, compared to his rivals who had far better and longer preparations.
But, Sharmendran proved that he is a true champion and his worth by winning the gold after defeating Thailand’s Muntaen Songvut 3-0 in the finals, today.
“I did not know if I could make it to the SEA Games only several months ago following my injury and I was out for eight months, but I decided to travel under (former national) coach Andris Vasiljevs to Latvia and Phuket for four months, I must thank him.
“Although he is no more with national team, he helped me a lot to bring back my confidence and rhythm. I was flying back and forth between Latvia, Malaysia and Phuket for four months all alone, training hard for this glory.
“I must also thank coach S. Mahendran, who agreed to help me though I asked him and the Malaysian Karate Federation (Makaf) at the last minute to help me in funding for overseas training,” he told reporters after the medal presentation ceremony.
Indonesian, Sandi Firmansah and Ivan Christopher Agustin of the Philippines took the bronze medals.
Meanwhile, Mahendran hailed Sharmendran for his fighting spirit and hard work shown to defend his gold medal.
“I have known him since he was young and know what he went through. I am happy that he believed in himself, I just did what I could help, but he fought well,” the former international said.
Earlier, the trio of Emmanuel Leong Theng Kuang, 27, Hoe Thomson, 26, and Ivan Oh Theng Wei, 22 helped Malaysia to retain the men’s kata (pattern) team gold after amassing 25.30 points, to defeat Indonesia (23.98) in the finals.
Vietnam and hosts, Philippines settled for the bronze medal.
Today’s two gold haul concludes the national team’s four gold, four silver outing from the nine golds at stake, exceeding the three gold target set, after having won seven gold each at the 2017 and 2013 editions, when 16 and 17 gold medals were offered. — Bernama