KUALA LUMPUR: The national karate squad seem to have their work cut out for them ahead of the upcoming South East Asian (SEA) Games in Cambodia after managing to finish fifth overall at the 10th Southeast Asia Karate Federation (SEAKF) Championship that ended today.

The national team wrapped up the three-day tournament in Manila, the Philippines with three gold, five silver and five bronze medals, well behind champions Vietnam, who raked in 23 gold, 20 silver and 23 bronze, Thailand (8-10-18), Indonesia (8-5-11), and the Philippines (6-5-11).

Malaysia’s gold medals all came from Kumite discipline (sparring) events, Siti Nur Azwani Nor Azli in the women’s 61 kilogramme (kg), S. Geerijaieswaran Pillai (men’s 67 kg) and Muhammad Arif Afifuddin (men’s 75 kg).

Meanwhile, SEA Games women’s 50 kg champion C. Shahmalarani had to settle for silver after losing 1-5 to local karateka Junna Tsukii in the finals.

Malaysia Games (Sukma) 55 kg men’s champion K. Thevendran also delivered a silver in the men’s senior, and a bronze in the Under 21 (U-21) category, while the men’s kumite team also delivered a silver medal.

Muhammad Isyraf Faiz Mohd Ismifarizal (men’s cadet 70kg) and Muhammad Arash Sirajudeen (men’s 84kg) contributed a bronze medal each.

In the Kata discipline events, Muhammad Aiqal Asmadie took two silver medals in the men’s senior and U-21, while Lovelly Anne Robberth won a bronze in the U-21 women’s event. The women’s team, meanwhile, wrapped things up with another bronze medal.

Team manager S. Sukumaran said that the national team would work on strengthening their strategies before the SEA Games scheduled from May 5 to 17.

“The athletes tried their best, but still need to improve a lot as we try to reach our optimum level. We have to improve in the technical part, and we hope to achieve better results in the SEA Games,” he said.

At the Hanoi SEA Games last May, Malaysia won four gold and six bronze medals in karate events. - Bernama

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