Arif defies pain for gold

HANGZHOU: A painful punch to the eye didn't deter karate exponent Arif Afifuddin Malik from clinching a gold medal at the Asian Games on Saturday.

Debutant Arif was already leading 9-4 in the men's kumite under-84kg final when Kazakhstan's Daniyar Yuldashev landed a punch on Arif's right eye.

With just 15 seconds remaining on the clock, the bout was temporarily suspended for Arif to receive medical attention. However, Arif went on to win 10-4.

"I knew there were only 15 seconds left on the clock. I was making an attacking move when he countered and punched me in the eye. It was really painful," said Arif.

"I just forced myself to hold on, even my coach, Tamer Abdelraouf Mourssy, told me to push on until the end.

"I really have no words to describe this win," said an emotional Arif, despite his visibly swollen eye.

Before this victory, Arif's best achievement was winning a silver medal at the 2019 Manila Sea Games.

In the earlier rounds, Arif defeated Vietnam's Do Thanh Nhan (2-0), Indonesia's Sandi Firmansah (4-3), and South Korea's Baek Jun Hyeok (5-2) en route to the final.

The 23-year-old dedicated his win to his parents.

"This is for them; they've been with me since the start through thick and thin. Although they are not physically here in Hangzhou, they are still with me in this victory," added Arif.

As of today, the Malaysian karate camp have already exceeded their previous achievement of one bronze at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Games.

With this gold, Malaysia have now won three medals in Hangzhou, including two silver from the women's individual and team kata.

Malaysia were unfortunate not to add more medals on Saturday after 2018 bronze-medal winner S. Prem Kumar lost in the quarter-finals.

Prem, who competed in the men's kumite under 67kg, lost 8-0 to Kazakhstan's Didar Amirali.

Malaysia will have one more karate exponent, C. Shahmalarani competing in the women's kumite under 50kg event on Sunday. She will face Bangladesh's Saiama Jaman.

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