Karate kid dreams big

Martial artist looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.

12 November 2018 | Sports

Katelin Martin; Martial Artist; “What fun would life be if it was easy? Everything I want I fight for.”

Otis Finck - Katelin Martin (20) travelled to the Karate World Championship in Madrid, Spain, held from 3 to 11 November, with high hopes.

The Walvis Bay born and bred “karate kid” is part of a three-member Namibian team, with her father Shihan Leonard Martin as coach and team manager.

The prestigious tournament is hailed as the ultimate showdown of world karate where top athletes compete. It is also regarded as the perfect foundation and preparation for the 2020 Olympics in Japan where Katelin intends to showcase her martial art skills.

Shihan Martin competed at the event in 1996 and finished among the top 16. No other Namibian competed at the Karate World Championship ever since.

Fast forward 20 years and his daughter Katelin is following in her tough as nails father’s footsteps.

Erongo caught up with Katelin during a training session in Walvis Bay and before her departure to Spain where she was to compete in the senior ladies individual kata with 75 other competitors from all over the world.

She trains from Monday to Sunday and gyms from Monday to Friday with gym workouts after each session. She also practices karate from Monday to Sunday and jogs whenever time permits.

All this needs to be balanced with preparing for her matric final exams.

“I am highly motivated and it’s an honour to live up to the high standards set by my father who left a legacy. He never competed at the Olympics since karate was only recently accommodated. Getting accepted into the Olympics will be a personal accomplishment and a realisation of my father’s dream.”

Katelin is ranked 112th out of 650 female participants in the world under World Karate Federation statutes. For Namibia to qualify for the 2020 Olympics she is ranked 17th.

Shihan Martin explained that Africa will most probably receive 4 Olympic slots. He added that it was important for Katelin to accumulate points to up her standings in the rankings in order to qualify.

“She is the only Namibian on the rankings placed so high and with a real chance of qualifying. She also needs to compete at premier league level next year to accumulate points to strengthen her chance of qualifying for the Olympics. ”

Katelin says there is much more to karate than just kicking and punching.

“It’s about understanding the art, the essence of where inner power comes from and the culture behind the sport.”

She was excited and said she was looking forward to the upcoming Karate World Championship and the prospects of qualifying for the Olympics.

“The level of intensity is high at the competition and much higher than my own level. It will be something new to experience. I want to make it through the first rounds.”

Her friends motivate her and for a girl who hated karate as a youngster, she has come a long way.

“I initially felt forced to do karate until I visited Japan in 2014 for my first black belt grading. That’s when I started understanding my style, the reason for the movements and fell in love with the sport.”

She became the first Namibian female to compete at the All Africa Games in 2015 and finished 4th with a top 5 ranking. She also obtained a 3rd place at the 2017 Goju Kai World Championships in Canada, won bronze at the Zone 6 in Botswana, finished 4th at UFAC, won the Open Lüderitz Championship, the Namibian Nationals and the National Goju Kai championships.

“Getting onto the podium with your country’s flag is an indescribable experience. Namibians are underestimated, and putting our country on the map is an achievement in its own.”

An encounter with Han Shi Peter Brandon during the South African Open resulted in her being driven for competitions and is the reason why she takes opponents down.

“He spelled out his expectations and told me that he knows I can achieve the highest level and am capable of doing so.”

Her mother, Erica, is also always in the background cheering her on and very supportive of the decisions she makes.

“What fun would life be if it was easy? Everything I want I fight for. Any dream is possible and achieving something has to do with your mindset. Don’t just sit and dream about doing something go out and do it,” she advises.

Katelin intends to study Bio Kinetics and Sport Science at Centurion Academy in Bellville, Cape Town, next year.

Catch her in action at the Region 5 championship to be hosted by Namibia at the end of May 2019. The Continental Championships 2019 UFAK Senior Championships will take place in Botswana in middle August. The All Africa Games is slated for Morocco from the end of July to mid-August.

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