Syakilla still chasing Olympic dream

Syakilla Salni

Syakilla Salni Jefry Krisnan is keeping her dreams of qualifying for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics alive.

The controversial karate exponent quit the national stable September last year and has since been training on her own.

Syakilla, who works as a receptionist at the Palace of the Golden Horses, unleashed several jabs during her interview with BFM’s ‘Bar None’ last week.

“Prior to leaving the national team, my focus was just on training. Once I quit, my whole life was upside down.”

“I have to manage my time with training as I want to still qualify for the Olympics, and work. Thank God I have a superb management at the hotel who are willing to accommodate based on my training schedule.”

“Right now I train alone, same as training without a partner. It’s difficult to ask the national team exponents to partner me as they have their schedule and I don’t want to interrupt their training and recovery time.”

Syakilla highlighted several obstacles in her quest to Tokyo which included the lack of funds.

“I was informed by the National Sports Council of Malaysia that I can still represent Malaysia in the qualifying tournaments but I will have to find my own money – which is unfair to me.”

She added the Malaysia Karate Federation told her the same as well.

The 2017 SEA Games (kumite below 55kg) champion and 2014 Incheon Asian Games gold medallist has been labelled a prima donna following issues related to her weight and discipline. It was also widely reported that Syakilla refused to train under national coach Ali Reza Souleymani. Syakilla has made it known repeatedly in the past that she is comfortable training under former national coach Andre Vasiljevs.

Under Vasiljevs, Syakilla made history by becoming the first Malaysian exponent to top the World Karate Federation Karate 1 Premier League Series overall ranking for women’s kumite below 55kg category.

Syakilla’s absence from the national team was not missed as Malaysia defended the kumite below 55kg gold medal through P. Madhuri.

“I quit because of the politics. When athletes do well, everyone gets excited. When the athlete falls, no one is there to support them. When I was on the top, everyone supported me. When I suffered a downfall, everyone blamed me.

“My coach said we failed, including him, but he was the only person who was willing to take responsibility.”

She added officials and decision makers in Malaysia must be reminded of the role of athletes.

“Going into the ring is the athlete. The coach is their (the athlete’s) coach. The athlete knows which coach is suitable for them. As for me, coach Andre is 100% … I can rely on him 100%.

“First trust the athletes as they know better than the association people wHO sit in the air-conditioned room and do nothing.”

“When we fail, they say a lot of things but don’t come to the ring to see what we are doing,” she said.

For Syakilla’s full interview, download the podcast on BFM.my.