Local ‘Karate Kid’ to represent SA in Italy championships

2011-10-06 00:00

A TEN-year-old from Orient Heights, Hemal Heeralal, is the only athlete from KwaZulu-Natal to represent South Africa in the 13th Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association (FSKA) World Karate Championships in Italy on October 22 to 23.

Heeralal will be facing the world’s best and fighting to hopefully bring the trophy home in the 10 to 11 years division.

The bubbly and passionate local “Karate Kid” says his zeal for this form of martial art was stirred up by the Jackie Chan movies he used to watch when he was a toddler.

“When he was little he used to be in a frenzy about Jackie Chan movies. He’d jump off the chair, imitate the moves and the sounds the actors made.

“One day he just asked me if he could take part in the sport,” his proud father, Buddha, said.

Heeralal was only seven years old when he began the sport and told The Witness that he loves every challenge that karate throws at him.

“Karate has taught me a lot about self-defence and discipline. It has helped me at lot with school too,” he adds.

The young athlete trains for four hours a week at a dojo (a training venue) with an additional extra hour of training every day at home and is required to stick to a healthy diet.

Heeralal is a Grade 4 pupil at Allandale Primary School and his favourite subjects are mathematics and science.

He says he is thrilled about the trip to Italy even though it will not be his first trip overseas.

Last year he had the opportunity to fly to Poland to take part in the under-10 division and made it to the top eight in world rankings.

“I enjoy meeting people from different countries. I hope to make lots of friends like I did last year. I enjoy the food as well,” he laughs.

At his tender age, Heeralal is halfway through to achieving his black belt and is currently on blue belt.

He scooped two gold medals at the Scorpion Karate Nationals this year.

Heeralal’s coach, Mergen Naidoo, described the young athlete as someone who is “quick to make friends, follows instructions and always puts an effort into what he does”.

“Karate is a hobby and when I grow up I want to become a lawyer,” Heeralal says.

• gabisile.ngcobo@witness.co.za

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