Exclusive Report By: Vikneswaran Raman
MANILA, Dec 5 -- Once P. Madhuri was strutting her stuff with some fine and soft moves in the Indian classical dance of Bharatanatyam.
Now, the 20-year-old is kicking and punching her way to glory in karate.
Madhuri had first chosen Bharatanatyam due to her huge interest in dancing at the age of seven but three years later her parents R. Poovanesan and S. Gokilawani forced her to take up karate for self-defence.
Though she ventured into karate with little interest, Madhuri is now among the country’s best karateka after just four years in the national set-up.
The Bukit Jalil Sports School’s pre-university student is representing the country in the women’s individual kumite (sparring) below 55kg at the 30th SEA Games at the World Trade Center (WTC) here on Sunday.
“I was really not interested in karate, but my parents forced me to learn karate after my mother (who is a headmistress) wanted me to join the sport after seeing her pupils training at her school.
“It was because they felt that karate has a better future. I am able to reach this level because of their wise decision,” she told Bernama at the WTC today.
Having claimed gold in women’s team kumite in her SEA Games debut at the 2017 KL Games, Madhuri is now eyeing similar success in the individual event.
“It is different feel to fight in team and individual event, but I have improved since I started to train under Ali Reza Souleymani (last November),” she said.
Madhuri emerged as the second Malaysian to be ranked world number one in May this year in the Under-21 category, shortly after winning the Asian Junior Championships silver medal in Sabah in April.
The first Malaysian to achieve that accolade was 2014 Asian Games gold medallist Syakilla Salni Jefry Krisnan in the women’s kumite below 55kg category in 2016.
Malaysia’s 16 exponents, who are lined up for 13 events at the regional games, have set a target of three gold medals, after having won seven golds at home in 2017.