The senior national karate team has started preparations for the Zone VI Karate Championships and All-Africa Games, both to be held in Mozambique in May and September respectively.
The team has set up three camps in Harare, Gweru and Triangle where karatekas are training three times a week, while a number of friendly internationals have been lined up in a hectic 2011 calendar.
Next week Zimbabwe will square up with Zambia in Harare in an international friendly before the team takes part at the Gaborone Open in Botswana on March 12.
National team head coach Paul Danisa was in Gweru at the weekend taking the Gweru karatekas, who constitute the bulk of the national team, through their drills. He revealed that the ultimate goal this year is a huge medal haul at the Maputo All-Africa Games in September and also to thwart the great challenge posed by continental karate powerhouses Tunisia, Senegal and Egypt.
“We are at the Zone VI Games to cause waves this year although our main focus is to claim many medals at the All-Africa Games,” said Danisa.
“The Gaborone Open will give us the requisite competition in preparation for the Zone VI because there will be European fighters participating. Also, Botswana have been the best in the southern region for the past three years so we will have enough practice. I am sure by the time we reach August we will be ready for the All-Africa Games.
“We have to be work extra hard because we would want to frustrate all the efforts of north and west Africans who fight in France on the European circuit, so we have a long way to go,” he said.
Twenty-four fighters out of the 36 currently in camp will make the trip to the Zone VI Championships after a selection competition on April 17 in Harare before the team sets up final camp five days later. The team will be further trimmed down to 12 who will do duty at the All-Africa Games.
Those almost certain of seats on the plane in both Mozambique competitions are Gweru-based team captain David Dube, Samantha Mutiti, Victor Bhunu, Winston Nyamhute, Justin Mashiri and Botswana-based Gondo Gondo.
Gondo is held in high esteem as he is getting high-quality training and competition at his adopted base.
Zimbabwe is looking at improving from the second position in which the country finished in kata and third in the semi-contact section at last year’s Zone VI competitions held in Harare.