The Jakarta Post
Indonesian karatekas topped the medal tally on the opening day of the WKF Karate1 Premier League on Saturday as Southeast Asian countries put in a dominant performance in the absence of the sports global powerhouses.
The hosts collected three gold, two silver and five bronze medals to lead the charge at Istora Senayan, ahead of fellow regional teams Malaysia and Vietnam.
Malaysia won three gold and bronze medals while Vietnam took a gold and silver medal. Venezuela was the only country outside the region who won one gold.
The opening day contested eight of 14 gold medals up for grabs. Indonesia's haul surpassed last year's of only one gold and four bronze medals.
On Saturday, Indonesia's gold medals were won by Faizal Zainuddin in the kata individual male seniors category; Eva Fitria, Ayu Rahmawati and Siti Maryam in kata team female seniors and Hendro Salim in kumite male seniors -84 category .
Faizal defeated Austrian Kaserer Thomas 4-1 to win his first gold medal at the premier league. He previously brought home gold medals at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
'I just felt fitter today. My opponent seemed to run out of moves in the final after a tight match in the semifinals,' boasted the 31-year-old karateka.
He said he employed a tricky technic called Suparinpei to counter against his opponent's Kanku Sho technic.
Faizal contributed a gold medal in the Kata team male seniors category with teammates Aswar and Fidelys Lolobua during the WKF tournament in Turkey and Indonesia.
But in the Kumite, Saturday's successful performance came as redemption for his failure to win the kumite gold in the previous Premier League series in Italy 2010, Turkey 2011 and Indonesia 2012.
Unfortunately he failed to defend their team's achievement against the Malaysian team.
'We have to accept this defeat as this is sport, based the judges' decision. However when I looked at our video, there was nothing wrong with our synchronization, power and speed. But it's the their decision so we should accept it,' Aswar said.
He said the defeat be a wake up call for team members to improve performances for the upcoming SEA Games in Myanmar in December.
President of the Indonesian Karate-Do Federation (FORKI) Hendardji Soepandji said that he was satisfied with the karatekas' achievements with them having surpassed the target of two gold medals on the first day of the two-day competition.
'I'm optimistic we can obtain more medals on the second day,' Hendardji said without singling out specific categories.
The event lists 213 karatekas from 24 countries, down 6 countries from last year. Among those absentees is Japan, which finished last year's series in second place behind Iran.
Iran is coming back but with only a single contender. France, which had contenders in the top three last year, has only two athletes around this time.