MELAKA (22 JULY): Iran’s karate team showcased an outstanding display of skill and determination, emerging as the frontrunner in the medal tally on the second day of the highly anticipated 19th Asian Karate Championship at the prestigious Melaka International Trade Centre (MITC) Ayer Keroh.
Securing a remarkable total of five medals, the Iranian athletes claimed two golds and three bronzes, establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the martial arts arena.
The men’s 55-kilogram (kg) kumite event saw the talented Benham Dehgazadeh clinching the gold medal, while in the women’s 61 kg kumite event, Atousa Golshadnezhad showcased her expertise to claim the second gold for Iran.
In close pursuit of Iran’s impressive performance, Kazakhstan secured the second position with one gold, one silver, and two bronzes. Sofya Berultseva made her country proud by contributing the sole gold medal in the women’s 68 kg kumite event.
Meanwhile, the selected team from Japan occupies the third position with one gold and one silver medal.
As the 13 participating countries compete fiercely for top honours, the Malaysian team, despite putting forth valiant efforts, currently ranks seventh in terms of medals achieved. Yesterday’s events brought them two bronze medals, with S. Prem Kumar shining in the men’s 55 kg kumite event and Zakiah Adnan demonstrating skill and determination in the women’s under 61 kg kumite category.
Nonetheless, the journey to victory has not been without its challenges. On the second day of the championship, the national karate squad encountered obstacles in their pursuit of medals.
Five athletes, considered the main hopes for the country, faced early elimination before reaching the final stages of the competition. Among them are H. Sureeya Sankar (men’s kumite -60kg), Muhammad Arif Afifuddin (men’s kumite 84kg), K. Gnanasekaran (men’s
kumite +84kg), M. Poovanesan (women’s kumite -55kg), and Amirah Syahirah Azalan (women’s kumite -68kg).
In an unfortunate turn of events, Sureeya Sankar, who previously achieved gold and silver medals in the 2023 SEA Games, was eliminated in the next stage after a hard-fought battle against Thailand’s Muekthong Siwakon in the men’s -60kg kumite category. Despite a tied score of 5-5, the referee’s decision went in favour of the Thai athlete based on initial points collected.
Expressing his disappointment, Sureeya stated, “I am deeply disappointed by this outcome, even though the score was tied at 5-5. The victory ultimately went to the athlete from Thailand.”
The physical toll was evident as Sureeya added, “Today, I felt less energetic due to a fever, and it slightly affected my focus.”
In the initial round, Sureeya displayed his prowess by securing a convincing victory against Indonesia’s Ari Sapura with a score of 8-3.
Muhammad Arif, on the other hand, faced a setback in his bid to advance to the semi- finals as he was defeated by Japan’s Rikito Shimada with a score of 4-6 in the quarter-finals.
Similarly, Amirah Syahirah, competing in the women’s -68kg kumite category, faced a tough challenge and succumbed to Taiwan’s Chao Jou with a score of 3-4.
In the men’s +84kg kumite category, Gnanasekaran, despite his best efforts, could not match the prowess of Thailand’s Kangtonh Teerawat, resulting in a 6-3 loss.
Lastly, Poovanesan, competing in the women’s -55kg kumite category, exhibited resilience but was defeated by Japan’s Kodo Rina with a score of 10-4.
As the championship unfolds, the athletes continue to show remarkable dedication and sportsmanship, making the 19th Asian Karate Championship an electrifying spectacle for martial arts enthusiasts worldwide.
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