ASIAN champion Leong Tze Wai earned a significant first for local karate when he clinched the men's individual kata (non-sparring) gold medal at the WKF K1 World Cup in Busan, South Korea on Sunday.
Tze Wai, 25, is the first local to win a title in the World Karate Federation (WKF) premier league series.
He was the most impressive exponent in the competition as he won all his four bouts without dropping a point.
In the final, the Malaysian turned in a flawless display to beat Korean Park Hee Jun 5-0.
Compatriot Kam Kah Sam fought his way back from the repecharge bouts to secure the bronze. They were the only exponents sent for the event which attracted competitors from 16 countries.
Tze Wai retained his Asian Championships title in Uzbekistan last month by beating Japan's Oki Itaru 5-0 in the final.
The Sabah-born exponent has proven to be a worthy successor to now-retired Asian champion Ku Jin Keat but Kah Sam's much-improved show in Korea will make it tough for the Malaysia Karate Federation (MAkaf) to decide on who to pick for the World Championships in Paris in November.
"I am proud of them as it is only their second outing in the World Cup series. Kah Sam won silver at the recent Indonesia leg," said Penang-based kata coach Lim Chee Jin yesterday. By Ajitpal Singh