KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — The 2014 Asian Games bronze medalist S. Senthil Kumaran has been appointed as a junior coach for the national karate squad, Malaysia Karate Federation (Makaf) deputy president Datuk Vincent Chen said.
Vincent said the former SEA Games gold medallist, who is not able to compete after suffering a crack in the forehead at the Asian Karate Championships in 2018, can also be a sparring partner for Kumite exponents.
“After sustaining the fracture in his sacrifice for the country, he can’t compete now. He has expressed interest in coaching, so Makaf decided to give our national athlete a chance to pursue his passion.
“Besides learning the coaching process, he can also be a sparring partner for our exponents and at the same time we will encourage him to learn sports science,” he said after the SEA Games Selection Committee meeting at Wisma OCM today.
Meanwhile, Vincent said newly appointed national karate coach R. Puvaneswaran has been handed the responsibility of training the elite kumite exponents, including Olympic aspirants S. Prem Kumar and R. Sharmendran.
Vincent said the former Asian Games gold medalist, who returned to the national set up last month after a three-year stint in Thailand, has gained the federation’s trust, besides being familiar with the athletes.
“All core athletes are now under Puvaneswaran, as he has coached them before and are familiar with our ways of doing things. Previously he had given us a lot of pressure when he was with Thailand (by improving the standard of Thai exponents).
“His responsibilities include training and picking athletes for Olympic qualification and to prove to us that he is a competent coach at the 2021 SEA Games,” he said and added that S. Mahendran and Alexander Arlanthu will remain in the set-up with no head coach in the new structure.
Puvaneswaran, 46, who coached the national team for four years since 2011 before moving to Bangkok to manage the Thai team in 2017, replaced Iranian Ali Reza Souleymani, whose contract was not renewed by Makaf.
Vincent also said that Olympic aspirant Prem Kumar will be facing a mounting task to qualify for the Tokyo Games after Makaf’s plan was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said Prem Kumar, who was initially from the below 55kg category, is trying to qualify for the lowest category contested in the Olympics in the below 60kg category but will lose out in ranking points.
“He is supposed to compete in the Asian Championships and several other tournaments to accumulate ranking points, so that he will be able to compete in the likes of World Karate Federation’s (WKF) Karate 1 Premier League and Series A, but now rankings are not on his side.
“Not that he is not good, but his previous category was an Asian category. I would say Prem Kumar is very upbeat and his physical fitness is good and I think emotionally he is there, but I am only concerned that he has not fought for more than 20 months,” he said.
With the travel restrictions and limitations caused by the pandemic, Vincent said Makaf is planning to gather top Southeast Asian exponents, especially those of the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia, who are trying to qualify for Tokyo, to have a centralised training in Malaysia to help each other.