With little time remaining before the much-anticipated 2021 Olympic Games take centre stage, five Namibian karatekas will today depart to Paris, France to compete at an Olympic qualifying event.
The karatekas are Mayvonne Swart, Michael Nakapandi, Freddy Mwiya Jnr, Suzel Pronk and Keanu Tyrone Stuurman. They will be accompanied by coach, Llewelyn Manalle.
The competition will take place from 11 to 13 June.
Swart told New Era Sport she is ready to make the nation proud by qualifying for the highly-anticipated event.
“I am ready and can’t prepare anymore, because we have been doing this for the last couple of months. For now, it’s just to go there and get the job done,” she said.
“We are 46 in our category and five are already selected to go to the Olympics. You have to get the top three [positions] to qualify for the Olympics, and then they will pick another 10 to qualify. So the chances are good but also hard so you have to give it your all.”
Nakapandi also said there is no more time to prepare, and he thus just needs to stay ready and book a place at the Olympics. He added that it is an exciting journey, because his strength will be tested with some of the best karatekas in the world. “This is the first time karate is at the Olympics, so we have been training since last year. We went to South Africa for a training camp at the beginning of the year, and just this past weekend, our coaches invited few training partners from South Africa to test our readiness. So overall, I am ready to go there and compete for my spots with the best in the world,” said an optimistic Nakapandi. Meanwhile, Stuurman said he waited long for this opportunity and cannot let it slip. “I am very prepared; I prepared 14 years for this. This is what I dreamt of while young, so I prepared my whole life for this and I believe my chances are very high,” he added.