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Sport
Kicking and punching their way to the top

Two local kickboxers will be the only Capetonians wearing the green and gold at the biennial Cadets and Juniors World Championships in Italy next month.

The performances of Ethan Happie and Jamé Pienaar at the South African Kickboxing Championships in Pretoria in April cemented their places in the SA junior team for the world championships, hosted by the World Association of Kickboxing Organisations (WAKO) from Saturday 15 to Sunday 23 September. The duo were part of the 41-man Cape Town district team during the national tournament and were the only two to advance to the international stage.

Seventeen-year-old Ethan won the gold medal in the under-65 kg boys’ division, while Jamé (18) clinched the top podium spot in the continuous category of the boys’ under-57 kg division along with the silver medal in the points category.

The junior world championships in Jesolo Lido, Venice, will be the first time Happie, a Strand resident, travels to compete in an international tournament, while the trip will be the second time Grabouw local Jamé competes on a global stage. Earlier this year, he was part of the SA team which participated in the third International Turkish Open Kickboxing Tournament.

Both teenagers are looking forward to the experience of travelling to and exploring a different country, meeting new people and competing on an international platform as part of the SA team. “It will be my first time overseas and I am nervous, but excited about the experience,” Ethan said.

For the seasoned Jamé, being part of the SA team is the enticing part of the trip. “I am looking forward to being part of the national team at the world championships and getting the chance to explore another part of the world,” he related.

What makes wearing the green and gold even more significant for Ethan is the fact that he has been kickboxing for only two years. The Westcliff School learner started karate at a young age, but was looking for a sport which involved more body contact, so he enrolled as a member of Aftermath Kickboxing and Sport Academy in Strand.

“I immediately loved the sport, particularly the competition side of it,” Happie, an alumnus of Loreto Primary School, said. “I hope to one day, when I have my black belt, open my own club and attract youths from my community and provide them with an alternative to drugs and gangsterism, and keep them off the streets.”

Groenberg Secondary School matriculant Jamé's introduction to kickboxing was a chance encounter. He accompanied a friend to a training session and was instantly intrigued by the sport. After signing up to be part of Aftermath five years ago, he has not looked back.

“The sport keeps me busy, it is the only sport type that I really have an interest in,” Jamé stated. “Furthermore, it really teaches me discipline, which helps with many other aspects of life as well.”

Both claimed they will continue to practise kickboxing for as long as they possibly can and they want to continue making their families proud. Ethan's mother Franciska said she and her husband, along with the rest of their family, are immensely proud of his achievements.

“Not only is this a great opportunity for Ethan, but it is also a tale of success for us. Our son is not only going overseas as a tourist, but he is going to represent our country in sport which he loves dearly,” she said.

“This is an overwhelming time for us and we are very proud of him. He will not only be experiencing a different part of the world, but will also meet fighters from other countries, who speak an array of languages. For us it is not about him winning, but we do want him to enjoy himself.”

Franciska also said Jamé's mother, Merjo, is very proud of her son’s achievements, particularly as she is a single mother who always wants the best for her son. Jamé also made special mention of the support of his school principal, Anthony Hess, whose belief in him has further driven him to success.

What advice would the martial arts duo give to youths considering taking up the sport. Jamé said: “Everyone does not always want to venture into something new because of the fear of the unknown, but how would you know whether or not you will like it, if you do not try your hand at it? Kickboxing is a sport that requires hard work, but with that comes benefits. I promise you, you would like it once you actually try it.” He added he spends at least an hour a day training.

Ethan attributed his success to his passion for the sport. “I am always thinking about how I can improve,” he said.

“My advice to others is to never give up on your dreams; always keep on trying, even when you fail. The more you try, the more your open yourself up for a chance to succeed, and that success will come through sooner or later.”

V Anyone who would like to support or sponsor the local duo can call Franciska on 078 144 9869.

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