Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
LOCAL full contact karatekas have been presented with another opportunity to get some competition time when they battle it out at the IKOKU South Africa International tournament in Cape Town later this month .
The tournament, slated for August 25, is expected to attract top fighters from as far as Japan, Chile and Mexico.
Zimbabwe are looking at fielding 21 athletes in the Under-60kg, Under-67kg, Under-77kg and Open weight division in the men’s division while in the women’s competition there are two divisions, Under-60kg and Under-65kg.
Zimbabwe Karate Union technical director full contact, Kumbirai Musinami, said having won the first edition of the tournament held in 2012, they are returning to the event with confidence and a bigger team.
“These will cover all the senior categories for men and women. We have four categories for men and two for women. We are only targeting those categories where we have claimed before and defending.
“We have got some new upcoming participants while some of those that were there in 2012 will also be there. But the team is bigger than that we went with in 2012, we had nine athletes and three officials.
“It’s been quite some time since 2012 and competition I am sure is going to be much tougher. It’s not going to be a walk in the park. But I think we have tried to do our best in terms of preparations. We have tried to prepare the team as best as we could and I am sure we will hold our own. We won’t be pushovers.
“We are also excited because the last time we did not have female athletes, but this time around we have a few. We have Kudakwashe Chiwandire and Ruvimbo Chizengwe. Chiwandire was first at the Thokoza tournament in July and is still developing, but she has great potential.
“Ruvimbo bowed out in the round of 16, it was her first regional tournament, but showed a lot of character and we have been working hard with her.
“I am sure she will do extremely well,” said Musinami.
On the men’s side Zimbabwe will be pinning their hopes on the likes of Tangayi “Mighty” Mhlanga, Likhwa Khumalo, who came eighth at the All-Japan tournament, Naison Chituwa, as well as upcoming lightweights Justice Mutyoramwendo and Tawanda Chimbade.
Most of the fighters took part in a grading session held on Monday at Raylton Sports Club as part of their final preparations for the tournament.
Musinami said the South Africa tournament presents them with a platform to trim down their team since they are also going for the So-kyokushin International Tournament in Japan scheduled for October.