After walking out of the national karate team two years ago, Senthil Kumaran made a stunning comeback by bagging the men’s kumite below 60kg gold medal in convincing fashion at the National Karate Championships in Malacca yesterday, reported The Star online
Senthil overpowered Krishnan Karthik of Masum 8-0 in the final to claim his first national title. He beat former SEA Games gold medallist L. Kunasilan of Perak 4-1 in the first round and then chalked a crushing 9-1 win over Mohd Norfahan Nordin of Labuan in the semi-finals.
The 24-year-old Senthil quit his job as a marketing consultant earlier in the year to train full-time with the national team under Latvian Andris Vasiljevs at Bukit Jalil.
However, he did not receive any allowance as the Malaysia Karate Federation (Makaf) wanted him to prove his worth at the National Championships before recommending him for the Kita Juara 2017 programme.
He left the national elite squad after winning the bronze in the kumite below 55kg category in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games in South Korea. Before that, Senthil made a golden SEA Games debut in Myanmar in 2013 by beating 2015 World Championships bronze medallist Donny Dharmawan of Indonesia to win the kumite below 60kg category.
“I trained really hard for these Nationals. I have to win it to be accepted into the national team again.
“I’ve no regrets. Karate is all I know,” said the Negri Sembilan-born Senthil.
Makaf secretary general Vincent Chen believes Senthil can contribute a gold in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games next August.
“For an athlete to give up his job to train with us without any allowance says a lot about his commitment. Now that he has won the national title, we’ve no reason to doubt his ability,” said Vincent.
Penang finished overall champions in the two-day championships with 5-2-0 haul. Selangor were second with a 4-4-1 total and the Hayashi Ha-Shito Ryu Kai Federation had a 4-2-2 collection for third place.