Zim starts preparations for Zone VI karate championships

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Zimbabwe have started preparations for the Zone VI karate championships to be held in Pretoria, South Africa, in May next year.

The squad for the May 28 contest is already in place. It is hoped the outcome of the Zimbabwe Karate Union (ZKU) January 28 elective annual general meeting would not have any negative effect on the team.

After finishing a commendable second position when they hosted the competition in Harare last year, Zimbabwe slid down two places to end this year’s edition in fourth place in Maputo, Mozambique.

The karatekas returned to Maputo in August for the All-Africa Games where they failed to garner even a single medal.

Now, intending to restore their battered pride, the ZKU has resolved to start preparations early to achieve their top-spot target.

The squad of 70 fighters would be training once a month starting in the build-up for the tournament, before the team goes into the final camp six weeks prior to the championships. National team coach Paul Danisa said there might be changes to the selected squad due to injuries.

“We have already selected a team of 70 karatekas whom we expect to travel to Pretoria next year,” said Danisa.

“Yes, there could be changes to the squad due to injuries, but everything is almost in place now.

The team would be training once a month until we have the final camp six weeks before the tournament. Our chances of coming out tops are bright basing on our training schedule. We hope to do extremely well.”

Familiar faces like captain David Dube, Victor Bhunu, Simba and Kudakwashe Chihlaba, Justin Mashiri, Botswana-based Gondo Gondo and Winston Nyamhute are in the squad.

Last year, the juniors had a memorable outing in both kata (form) and kumite (free fight) to outshine their senior counterparts.

The prospect of facing hosts and defending champions South Africa remains a cause for concern, while Botswana has in recent years emerged as an African karate powerhouse.

Botswana surrendered the Zone VI title to South Africa who hauled 46 gold and 19 other medals in Maputo. Zimbabwe have an insurmountable task of disposing of their Limpopo neighbours.

South Africa always harvest more medals by virtue of sending a bigger squad to the tournament where their karatekas end up fighting against each other while other countries fail to send big numbers.