By RAJES PAUL
KUALA LUMPUR: Karate exponent Vasantha Marial is seeking to nail a SEA Games gold medal for the first time in her last outing in Laos.
The 30-year-old Vasantha wants to succeed to strengthen her resume when she turns to coach after taking a final shot at winning a medal in the world championships in Serbia next year.
“This will be my last SEA Games and I am motivated to bow out on a winning note,” said the two-time Asian champion.
The competitions in Laos will be held from Dec 10-12 At Laos and Vasantha will compete in only the kumite team event. She had competed in the women’s below 50kg event in previous Games.
“I hope to justify my place in the team. Malaysia have not won the women’s team gold since the 1999 Brunei Games and we are determined to end the long drought,” she said.
Vasantha, who was once ranked fifth in the world, said that her task after she retired from competitions was to groom world beaters.
“I will end my career as a competitor after the world championships and winning a medal for Malaysia will be the best farewell gift for my seven years with the national team,” she said.
“After that I want to inspire and develop many youngsters to excel in this sport. This will be my contribution back to the country.”
National chief coach P. Arivalagan said that Vasantha would fit in perfectly to his plans to strengthen the coaching set-up next year.
Besides Vasantha, veteran R. Puvaneswaren will also bid farewell to the SEA Games and hopes to get to compete in the Guangzhou Asian Games before he quits competitions.
“I will propose for both of them to be in the coaching stable when they retire,” said Arivalagan.
“Currently, we only have one female coach, S. Komathi, assisting in the back-up squad. Vasantha has a world of experience and she will be ideal to take charge of the young exponents in the women’s back-up team.
“As for Puvaneswaren, I plan to bring him in to assist me in the elite squad.”
Meanwhile, Arivalagan said that all 13 exponents in the kumite team are fighting fight for the Laos Games, except for G. Yamini (below 60kg), who is nursing a slight back strain.At the 2007 Korat Games, the Malaysia won eight gold medals in karate and Arivalagan said that he would be happy if the team can return from Laos with four. STAR