Wednesday October 3, 2012
Hatta makes smashing return as karate exponents excel in Bangkok
By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: Former Asian champion Mohd Hatta Mahamut (pic) made a successful return to competition after a one-year absence as the national team flexed their muscles with a nine-gold show in the inaugural South-East Asia (SEA) Karate Championships in Bangkok.
Hatta overcame Indonesia SEA Games bronze medallist Hendro Salim in the men’s individual kumite below 84kg final to mark his comeback after he was sidelined by a knee injury last year.
Hatta became the first Malaysian winner of the men’s 84kg kumite title at the Asian Karate Championships in China in July last year but it came at a price as he sustained the injury there.
He had to undergo surgery and subsequently missed the chance to defend the SEA Games gold medal won two years earlier in Laos.
Hatta was one of the five Malaysian gold medallists in kumite with Indonesia SEA Games champions Loganesha Rao, Shaharudin Jamaludin and K. Teagarajan also living up to their billing in their respective categories.
G. Yamini was the only Malaysian woman kumite exponent to take gold in the below 61kg event.
Two-time Asian champion Ricky Leong Tze Wai led the way in the kata (performance) discipline as he avenged his SEA Games defeat by Indonesia’s Faisal Zainuddin in the men’s individual category and rallied his team-mates Kam Kah Sam and Lim Chee Wei to victory in the team event.
Thor Chee Yee, the Kuantan Sukma gold medallist, secured the women’s individual title and added a second in the team event with Celine Lee and Khaw Yee Voon.
The nine-gold performance paved the way for Malaysia to finish second in the overall medals tally behind Indonesia, losing out by just one silver. What made it sweeter was that Malaysia only sent the seniors and did not contest in the junior categories.
Former Asian Games gold medallist R. Puvaneswaran, who is handling the national squad together with Latvian coach Andris Vasiljevs, was pleased with the performance of the exponents ahead of the World Championships in Paris next month.
“The SEA championships were just a warm-up for Paris. I’m happy with most of them as they gave a good account of themselves. Hatta did well as he hasn’t competed for more than a year after his knee operation.
“He missed the chance to defend his Asian title and, hopefully, this will give him the confidence to win his place in the world championships,” said Puvaneswaran.