Tuesday August 21, 2012
Leong makes history with first World Cup gold
By LIM TEIK HUAT
PETALING JAYA: Reigning Asian champion Leong Tze Wai continued to make big strides for Malaysian karate as he clinched the men’s individual kata (non-sparring) gold medal in the WKF K1 World Cup in Busan on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Tze Wai is the first Malaysian exponent to win gold in the World Karate Federation (WKF) premier league series.
Tze Wai cleared three bouts en route to reaching the final without dropping a point and maintained his performance to beat South Korean Park Hee-jun 5-0 for the gold.
Kam Kah Sam fought his way back from the repechage rounds to secure the bronze for Malaysia. He had lost his opening bout against Hee-jun 3-2.
The duo were the only national exponents sent for the championships.
Tze Wai had retained his Asian Karate Championships title in style by beating Japan’s Oki Itaru 5-0 in the final in Uzbekistan last month.
Itaru was the silver medallist at the last Asian Games in Guangzhou two years ago, where he lost to another Malaysian, Ku Jin Keat, who has since retired from the national squad.
Tze Wai, who hails from Kota Kinabalu, has proven to be a worthy successor to Jin Keat.
Sixteen countries participated in the Busan championships and the duo’s performance will make it hard for the Malaysia Karate Federation (Makaf) to decide on who to pick for the individual kata at the World Championships in Paris in November.
Makaf vice president Lim Chee Jin, who is also the head instructor of the Penang-based national kata training centre, said this had been the second outing in the K1 World Cup series for both exponents.
“They also competed in the Indonesian leg of the K1 World Cup in Jakarta where Kah Sam got the silver after losing narrowly to reigning world champion Antonio Diaz of Venezuela.
“Ricky, fresh from his win at the Asian championships last month, did well to take the gold for the first time,” said Chee Jin.