19 September 2020, Saturday | 11:55pm

Syakilla gives up Olympic dreams after quitting national set-up



PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s dream to have the first karate representative at the Olympic Games is as good as gone after the country’s top female fighter Syakilla Salni Jefry Krisnan (pic) dropped a bombshell by quitting the national team.

The 26-year-old Syakilla notified her decision via an email to National Sports Council (NSC) director general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail yesterday.

This means she will also not defend her gold at the Philippines SEA Games from Nov 30-Dec 11.

Her decision comes just four days after the NSC took a tough stance by booting out her coach Andris Vasiljevs for his failure to get her into an ideal weight for the K1 Championship in Japan last week.

The Latvian coach was re-hired albeit on a three-month probationary attachment in July following Syakilla’s request. The NSC had earlier dropped Vasiljevs after the team returned without any medals from last year’s Asian Games in Jakarta.

Syakilla has been struggling since Vasiljevs left last year and since she was asked to change her weight class from below 61kg to below 55kg in her bid to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The switch to the lower weight category was too much that she almost quit in March but made a U-turn after a meeting with the Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, Malaysia Karate Federation (Makaf), NSC and National Sports Institute (NSI).

But after failing to make the weight at the K1 Premier League in Dubai, K1 Series A in Salzburg in March and the K1 Championship in Japan last week, which offers Olympic qualifying points, Syakilla has finally decided to pull the plug on her Olympic dreams.

Shapawi said Syakilla has not reported for training since returning from Japan last week but resorted to emailing him her resignation letter.

“We have tried to have a discussion with her to find alternative ways to help her qualify for the Olympics, ” said Shapawi.

“But she didn’t commit to any meetings but just emailed us on her decision yesterday.

“I guess she tried hard. We tried to accommodate her request too to ensure her qualification to the Olympics but things didn’t work out as well as we expected.”

Syakilla was the best bet to qualify for the Olympics based on her record of being ranked No.1 in the world in 2016 but she could not cope up with demands after changing her weight class for the Olympics.

“It looks like she has made up her mind, it’s a loss that we won’t even have her for the Philippines SEA Games as she is a medal prospect.

“We wish her well and thank her for her service to the country for all these years.”

Meanwhile, Makaf secretary-general Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad said they accepted Syakilla’s decision and would try to get others to qualify for the Olympics although the chances are slim.

“It’s her decision to quit and we accept it. All parties did their best to get her to qualify for the Olympics but it didn’t go well, ” said Nur Azmi.

“We have been fair to her but she refused to talk to us to solve her problems. Her decision affects our target in the SEA Games but we wish her good luck and will focus on the athletes we have.”



Source: The Star 
Photo: Berita Harian

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