FOUR Japanese university students are currently sparring with the Penang judokas preparing for the 19th Sukma (Malaysia Games) that will be hosted by Perak next month.
Penang have entered eight men and six women for the judo tournament to be held in Parit Buntar from Sept 12 to 14.
Chief coach Md Nashriq Md Nassir said the presence of the Japanese was made possible with the help of Penang Judo Association (PJA) former president Johnny Khoo, who has strong contacts with the Okayama Shoka University from the Okayama Prefecture.
“The Japanese university is kind enough to send two boys and two girls here. Their level of judo is higher and that helps to inspire and empower the Penang judokas,” said Nashriq.
The four Japanese – Kishino Kaiki, Hata Ryohei (male), Kurata Akane and Namba Kumiko (female) – arrived on Aug 7 and will be with the team until Sept 15. The quartet will also travel with the team to Sukma.
“We benefit with them as our sparring partners because we’ve to fight harder,” said team captain Kamini Sri, who herself had a one-year training stint at the International Budo University in Chiba, Japan last year. She also acts as an interpreter for the Japanese students.
Kamini, who will take part in the shiai -57kg category, is obviously one of Penang’s medal hopes.
The other members of the Penang team are Lim Yi Zheng, Nicholas Me Zheng Shan, Leon Cheah Jun Xian, Chan Por Hao, Ong Ting Jie, Tan Tze Ning, Looi Qi Min, Tan Kei Yi, Ummi Nazeerah, Goh Xuan Le and Dania Rosaini.
Penang won three golds in the 2015 Sukma in Kuala Lumpur and the expectation is for them to repeat the achievements. There was no judo event in the last Sukma in Sarawak in 2016.
Nashriq is banking on Xuan Le for a gold medal in the -52kg event. She will fly back on Aug 31 from Chiba where she is undergoing a year’s training stint to take part in Sukma.
Apart from that, Nashriq said the kata pairs of Amir Daniel-Lim Yi Zheng (men’s nage no kata) and Siti Nur Aisyah-Tan Kei Yi (women’s ju no kata) are also gold medal prospects.
Amir, 14, emerged national junior No. 2 in June but he is underage for the shiai (combat) event in Sukma as the minimum age qualification is 15. However, the Penang Free School student is eligible for the kata (non-combat) event.
Nashriq, whose judo career was prematurely cut short by a knee injury in 2005 SEA Games in the Philippines, and kata coach Chew Li Ying have been working very hard daily with the team at the Penang Judo Academy in Jalan Barnett, off Jalan Macalister.
They not only polish on the judokas’ throwing techniques, holding their opponents down, executing chokes and arm bar, but also put them through physical exercises at Polo ground, Botanic Gardens and Penang Hill slopes.
The Penang judo squad:
Shiai: Men – Lim Yi Zheng (-55kg), Leon Cheah Jun Xian (-60kg), Nicholas Me Zheng Shan (-66kg), Chan Por Hao (-73kg), Ong Ting Jie (-81kg ), Tan Tze Ning (-90kg ), Looi Qi Min (+90kg); Women – Tan Kei Yi (-44kg), Ummi Nazeerah (-48kg), Goh Xuan Le (-52kg), Kamini Sri (-57kg), Dania Rosaini (-63kg).
Men’s Nage No Kata: Amir Daniel-Lim Yi Zheng; Women’s Ju No Kata: Siti Nur Aisyah-Tan Kei Yi.
Story by K.H. Ong
Photos by Adleena Rahayu Ahmad Radzi