Schoolgirl judo champ hoping to get to Kiev

2011-07-28 00:00

NOT many 16-year-olds are as clear about what they want to do with their lives as Shannon McKenzie.

As far as she is concerned, she is already living out her dream. The tenth-grader at Carter High holds junior SA colours in judo. She has been selected to represent the country at the Cadet World Championships to be held in Kiev, Ukraine, next week. The only thing standing between her and this coming to pass is R22 000.

“I am very honoured to be chosen … I am extremely excited,” the junior champ recently told The Witness.

Shannon said she has been involved with judo since she was five years old after being introduced to the sport by a neighbour.

She has represented South Africa against Reunion. She won the junior championship title again this year.

“Judo has taught me self-discipline, responsibility and dedication. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my coaches for pushing me to train harder and for believing in me.”

Even with all the discipline the sport has taught her, Shannon admits she has had the opportunity to “kick butt” and show the opposite sex who is in control. “Out of the many things judo teaches you, knowing how to defend yourself and overpower someone stronger than you is very satisfying. My friends all feel a little safer when I am around,” she joked.

Shannon aims to study sports science or sports management at tertiary level and dreams of opening her own judo school.

Alex Coetzee, her coach for the past 11 years, said Shannon has clinched the South African junior championship title for the past four years. However, he has not allowed her to compete internationally, believing she is too young to travel alone. This year one of the coaches at the Renshuden Judo Club is accompanying the team, which is due to leave on August 8.

Coetzee appealed for donations to help in meeting Shannon’s R22 000 travel budget, which will include accommodation and other competition expenses, after she was turned down by the Sport and Recreation Department.

Prospective donors can call Coetzee at 082 775 7461.

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