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Gold, or nothing: Namibian stars go for broke

NAMIBIA will not be at the 2022 Immaf World Championships in Serbia to make up numbers, says team captain Geraldo Bok.

The 25-year-old bantamweight grappler made it clear during the team’s send-off yesterday that they are not going be ‘also-rans’ at the 11 to 17 February International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (Immaf) global competition.

“We’re not going there to be another number or take part. We’re not just going there to have an experience. We’re trying to go for gold, we’re trying to place and make it known that we are some of the best mixed martial arts fighters in the world.

“We made a statement at the African championships and came back with three medals,” Bok told the press.

He is determined to upgrade his continental bronze, which he won at lightweight, to gold at the World Championships in his preferred weight class.

“What you can expect from us is a disciplined approach. We’re trying to put Namibia on the map.

“We’re trying to pioneer the sport in the country,” he said.

“We might be lesser known as a sport in the country, but we’re making the loudest noise within the shortest amount of time. So, you can expect fireworks from us.”

Over 520 athletes from 62 countries are expected to challenge for honours in Belgrade, making the current world edition the biggest event in the international governing body’s history.

A number of champions from the 2022 season are on the roster, including Namibia’s African champion, Veja Hinda, who will do battle in the featherweight division.

He gets an elimination round ‘bye’ due to his status, and will join the cation from the round of 16.

Junior welterweight Ronaldo Feris, junior lightweight Stefan Gilge and Arno Jacob, who fights at straw-weight, complete a strong Namibian contingent heading out to Eastern Europe.

The sixth member of the team, a “devastated” Damian Miller, had to pull out due to illness.

“He got sick, so unfortunately he can’t travel with us. It’s a pity, cause that also would have been another medal in the flyweight division,” coach Carlos de Sousa said yesterday.

The senior competition will feature six weight divisions for female athletes, from atomweight to lightweight, and 10 for male athletes, from straw-weight to super-heavyweight.

“We don’t know who they will be competing with, we’ll only know when we arrive on the 9th [of February] in Serbia,” said De Sousa.

The team has trained consistently for just over 10 weeks and are in peek combat condition, said De Sousa.

“The boys will make Namibia proud. They are very focused, so you’ll definitely get medals from the team,” De Sousa said.

“We’ll have some tough competition over there. But it’s nothing we can’t handle. I’m happy with their fitness, they are in top notch condition,” he continued.

“Mentally they are ready for it. I drill it into them, that we’re not going for holiday. I’ve also been there, so I know what to expect.”

De Sousa’s charges are relative novices internationally, having made their bow at that level only in April last year.

But their success over such a short period of time has got the attention of their rivals

“I think they are more afraid of us because they don’t know much about us and we know a lot about them. The word on the street is that they are quite wary about the Namibian team. They are searching all over for any video clips they can get of our fighters,” said De Sousa.

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