local girl (17) to compete in oz

2011-06-10 00:00

A 17-YEAR-OLD from Raisethorpe is heading to Australia to compete in the sixth Commonwealth Karate Championships at the end of next month.

A grade 11 pupil, Yashna Sarju will be representing South Africa and will face the best that the Commonwealth has to offer in karate. She seems shy and harmless but when she gets in the ring, she is fearless and takes the challenge in her stride.

“I’m really excited and a bit nervous about my second entry at the Commonwealth Games,” she said. In 2009 she was chosen for the first time to represent South Africa at the Commonwealth Games in Gauteng.

She started karate at the age of six and after lots of hard work and dedication she was awarded her first-dan black belt in 2007. The black belt is the highest rank in the sport.

The youngster is now eyeing the gold medal in the under-53 kg division. “I constantly need to tell myself ‘I can do it’ to win the challenge,” the young champion said. She trains eight hours a week at International Federation of Kunakoshi Shotokan Karate dojo in Bombay Road.

Her instructor, Roy Naidoo, said Sarju is a dedicated and disciplined student. Last month she finished first in her division when she represented South Africa in the Zone 6 Championships in Maputo.

Her mother, Devina, said she is proud of her daughter even though she still gets fearful when she takes on an opponent in the ring because she thinks she is going to get injured.

“Her travelling gets heavy on the pocket because they aren’t funded by the government. We do everything on our own but it’s worth it because I made a commitment to support her.”

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