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South Asian Games: Karatekas confident of winning 7 Golds

Sri Lanka karatekas are brimming with confidence and they seem confident of winning seven Gold Medals at the South Asian Games to be held from August 23 to 28 at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium. This is the promise held out by 7th Black Belt holder in the world Anura Kaththiriarachchi, the President of the Karate Federation of Sri Lanka.

The 20-member team has been submitted to Sports Ministry for approval. "We had the great honour in 2004 by winning the first gold medal for Sri Lanka in Karate in Islamabad, Pakistan at 9th South Asian Games. Duminda Kalyana won the gold in the over 80 kg weight category. Sri Lanka karatekas also won two silver and two bronze medals in Pakistan.

Kaththiriarachchi who is also world renowned referee, said that karatekas are in fine shape and going through their paces well to achieve success at the Games. The Sri Lanka karatakas had the benefit of being coached and trained by Shihan Naomi Kono (black belt 7 Shithoriu, 6 Shotokan) a very knowledgeable Japanese coach for the past one and half years.

At the 2004 SAF Games karate in Pakistan, the hosts became overall champions. However, Sri Lanka will be looking forward to beat the Pakistanis in the overall this time. Sri Lanka were runners-up in 2004.

The local coaches comprising Nandasiri Lokukaluge, R. I. Sinhawansa, D. L. Lalith, Sisira Kumara are doing their bit to help the karatekas to be in good trim. The karatekas are training at the Sports Ministry Gymnasium at Torrington Place both in the mornings and evenings.

The karatekas will receive the countdown clock, mattresses and kits by August 7 through the Sports Ministry. There were 54 in the karate pool and was reduced to 20 at the final trial held last month.

The men karatekas will fight in the Kumete events in the under-50, under-55, under-60, under-65, under-70, under-75, under-80 and over-80. The women players will fight in two weight class under-48 and under-53.

While men and women will also fight in the Kata events in the same weight categories. It should be mentioned Kata events are being coached by Kaththiriarachchi and Clement de Soysa.

T. N. K. Perera is the manager of the karate team.

Kaththiriarachchi said that he is somewhat worried that they have no headquarters and he is very hopeful that the Sports Ministry will look into this important matter and provide the federation with a headquarters soon.

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