Namibia dispatched a strong nine-member team of karatekas to participate in the 11th edition of the quadrennial multi-sports All Africa Games in Brazzaville, Congo, which gets underway on Friday.
The team, under the stewardship Freddy Mwiya, wrapped up its preparations in Windhoek on the eve of its departure yesterday and oozed confidence about its medal aspirations.
The Namibians will compete in the individual Kata and Kumite team styles. Like father like daughter, the only female athlete in the traveling entourage is 17-year old Kathlin Martin, daughter of former All Africa Games bronze medalist Leonard Martin.
Kathlin is among Namibia’s medal hopefuls in the Kata division. Other team members are Zaid Ely, Diego Brandt, De Wet Moolman, Paul Mwiya, Nichol Sibeso, Llewellyn Manale, Nathaniel Anaene and Yothason Simasiku.
The karatekas will be coached by Freddy Mwiya, with Leonard Martin as team manager, while Wikus Oberholzer accompanied the team as head of the delegation, also doubling up as chief referee.
“Obviously we’re fully aware of the tough challenge we will face, but our primary target is to at least get a medal, irrespective of the colour,” said a confident Oberholzer. He expressed satisfaction with the manner in which preparations were conducted, but was quick to point out that the absence of regular competition against formidable opponents is hampering progress.
In an effort to sharpen its All Africa Games-bound karatekas, the Namibia Karate Federation enlisted the services of experienced coaches from neigbouring Botswana to assist with preparations.
“Hopefully, we can take the positives from these games and build the team for the next four years, even if we don’t manage to win medals. It’s very important for our athletes to participate regularly at these august events if we are to become competitive,” Oberholzer said.