PORT Elizabeth is home to a group of 40 junior karatekas selected to represent South Africa at the World United Karate Organisation (Wuko) Karate World Championships in Teresina, Brazil, next month.
The Wuko South Africa National Junior Royal Protea Karate team, with 130 members, was chosen from medallists of the national event held in Port Elizabeth last year.
Girls captain Mikaila Kliment and boys leader Emil Maritz have already made their mark among the best in the world.
Mikaila, 14, a Grade 9 pupil at Woodridge College, is a defending world champion.
She has high expectations for the tournament, although there was no pressure on her. "I’m not training a lot but my focus is there and my intention is to go out and do my best.”
Grey High School matriculant Emil, 18, said he had been out of the game for the past three years but planned a big comeback: "I’m in matric and juggling time with my studies. I’m trying to go into this tournament with an open mind.”
Chief instructor Michael Kliment said the team had gone through trials before being selected.
The Wuko world championships are held every two years, each time in a different country. South Africa will host the senior tournament next year.
"Wuko SA is a winning product that has produced 27 world champions in the past 10 years. This speaks well for the future.”
Kliment said karate had been instrumental in instilling discipline, achievement, family values and responsibilities in youngsters – qualities which were sorely missed at tertiary education level nowadays .
The tour for the junior team will cost each member R22000, which includes transport, accommodation, tournament fees and the Junior Royals Proteas national team kit.
Kliment has appealed for sponsorship for the team.