Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S representatives at the IKOKU South Africa International Karate tournament left the country yesterday for Cape Town where they will battle for top honours against other participants from different countries on Saturday.
The team was initially scheduled to leave for South Africa on Monday with 21 fighters expected to represent the country at the event.
However, due to financial constraints, they had to drop some of the athletes and are now set to field at least 13 participants.
Zimbabwe Karate Union technical director (full contact), Kumbirai Musinami, said they are confident of the selected athletes despite the hiccups.
“The trim down put some pressure on the smaller team but we have always done very well under such conditions but due to financial challenges we have no option but to trim down our team. The selected team has all the potential to deliver results.
“Despite being less seasoned fighters, they are extremely good. We are grateful to our sponsors and karatekas, they always come with assistance, even some of those not participating they always come to help,” said Musinami.
Some of the dropped fighters include Tangayi “Mighty” Mhlanga, Pumulani Maphosa and Kelly Mtisi.
Top karateka, Samson Muripo, who has been short-listed for the event is still waiting for clearance to participate but he was upbeat the young and upcoming fighters in the team will rise above the challenge.
“They are all youngsters and very outstanding. They are gunning for victory. We have Justice Mutyoramwendo he won at the AFCKO in May, in Thokoza. In the women’s section Kudakwashe Chiwandire won it and we had a camp on the weekend, so we expect nothing short of victory,” said Muripo.
Muripo said this is a chance for most of the upcoming fighters in the team to get exposure of competing at a higher level.
“Normally the young people are the future, so they need to be promoted at all costs and they need to be exposed to such tournaments,” said Muripo.
In the first edition of the tournament held in 2012, Zimbabwe came out tops with the likes of Sly Karidzamimba claiming gold in the lightweight category.
This time around they have also included three females — Kudakwashe Chiwandire, Samantha Chizengwe and Precious Kazembe. The trio will participate in the Under-60kg weight division.
The team will be under the guidance of Tendai Chaparadza. The other officials travelling with the team are Muchineripi Tarwireyi, Shadreck Chigombe and Admire Chikowe.
Justice Mutyoramwendo, Godknows Chidagu, Gary Musami, Tawanda Chimbade, Lovejoy Mudhokwani, Tinotenda Mudhokwani, Sly Karidzamimba, Patrick Mangwiro, Onisimo Ndyari, Samantha Ruvimbo Chizengwe, Precious Kazembe, Kudakwashe Chiwandire, Samson Muripo.