Karate ‘comeback’ kid Sharmendran overcomes injury woes to retain gold

Sharmendran wears a satisfied look after his painful but inspirational effort. (Bernama pic)

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 Centre today.

The 27-year-old’s valiant fight was not only in the ring but away from it as well after being forced to overcome a year-long mental and physical test following surgery on his right knee in December 2018.

Back from conditioning in August, the 2014 Karate1 World Cup champion only had four months and one tournament to prepare for the biennial Games.

But Sharmendran proved he is a true champion by winning gold after defeating Thailand’s Muntaen Songvut 3-0 in the final.

“I did not know if I could make the SEA Games but decided to travel under (former national) coach Andris Vasiljevs to Latvia and Phuket for four months. I must thank him,” he told reporters.

“Although he is no more with the team, he helped 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 although I asked him and the Malaysian Karate Federation at the last minute to help with funding for overseas training.”

Indonesian Sandi Firmansah and Ivan Christopher Agustin of the Philippines took bronze.

Earlier, the trio of Emmanuel Leong, Hoe Thomson and Ivan Oh helped Malaysia retain the men’s kata (pattern) team gold after amassing 25.30 points to defeat Indonesia (23.98).

Today’s haul concludes the team’s four gold, four silver medals outing, exceeding the three-gold target set before the Games.