Shaharudin bagged the below 70kg (kumite) gold medal at the last Games in Alor Star two years ago and subsequently earned a call-up to the national elite team. But this time, the pressure will be greater on the youngest member of the national men's team to live up to his billing again in the competition in Marang.
The 20-year-old is eyeing a place in the squad for the Asian Juniors in Kota Kinabalu and also the World Championships in Japan at the end of the year.
While his chances of making it to the Asian Juniors should not be in doubt, it is the selection for the world meet that is on his mind.
“The national coach (P. Arivalagan) has decided on a few names but he has kept the selection open in my category. He wants to look at our current form,” said Shaharudin.
“I was just a newcomer when I won in Sukma two years ago. There is more reason for me to make sure that I bag the gold for Federal Territories in my second outing. There is pressure because everyone will be gunning for me but it motivates me to live up to expectations.”
In his SEA Games debut in Korat last year, Shaharudin was in the silver medal-winning team and he took bronze in his individual event.
Shaharudin has a sister, Jamaliah, in the national team. Jamaliah was a gold medallist at the SEA Games last year but she is not eligible to defend the Sukma title. The competitions in Sukma are for Under-23 exponents.
However, Federal Territories can also count on the services of other national team members, among them G. Yugneswary and K. Jayaseelan.
Federal Territories, featuring exponents from Kuala Lumpur, emerged as the overall champions at the last Games, bagging four gold medals and Arivalagan, who is the team manager, is looking at his exponents doubling the count this time.
“National exponents have been allowed to compete and we can expect strong challenges from Selangor, Perak and Kedah. Besides the three national team members, we also have a few national back-up exponents and we are confident they will not let us down,” he said.