Five Namibian karatekas who contested at an Olympic qualifying event in Paris this past weekend, all failed to book their spots at this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
They are Mayvonne Swart, Michael Nakapandi, Freddy Mwiya Jnr, Suzel Pronk and Keanu Tyrone Stuurman. The Olympic qualification tournament was held at Stade Pierre de Coubertin Sports Hall, Paris (France) from 11 to 13 June 2021, when the final 24 spots were up for grabs in eight Kata and Kumite categories.
National coach, Llewellyn Manale said the world’s highest-ranked karatekas participated in the event, and the competition was
“Even though the result does not always reflect the skills or talents of our athletes, the amount of experience gained by these athletes attending international events as well as new knowledge obtained is of immense benefit,” he was quoted as saying on the federation’s Facebook page.
“A major shortcoming, in general, is the exposure on an international level of our athletes due to various reasons and (lack of) funding. Fortunately, we had two athletes (Suzelle Pronk and Freddy Mwiya) who were sponsored by the Namibia National Olympic Committee (as this was an Olympic qualification event), but the remaining athletes were self-funded.”
Manale said they will go back to the drawing board and start planning the road for the remainder of 2021 as well as 2022.
“As the whole world is trying to cope with the current Covid-19 pandemic situation, we are very grateful for every opportunity that is presented for our athletes to participate,” he added.
Also sharing his experience on the competition, Nakapandi said the competition was an exciting experience and an eye-opener. He added that if more opportunities are granted to compete at that level, it will open more doors.
“The experience was quite exciting and inspirational. With more chances to part take at competitions of this level, I’m sure we as a team can eventually score some medals,” he said.
Meanwhile, Swart said it was a privilege to represent Namibia at a competition of that magnitude.
“Unfortunately, none of us qualified, but I learned a lot from there and now just want to work even harder, work from scratch and change where we have to change to get better,” she said.
- Additional reporting, Namibia Karate Federation