London — The Namibian team to the 2012 London Olympics has settled in at the Athletes Village after their arrival last Saturday, while wrestler Sem Shilimela has already started training with his Cuban coach Luis Forcelledo.
Shilimela recently competed at an international wrestling tournament in Spain where he won two bouts against wrestlers from Moldova and Khazakstan, while he lost one bout to a Turkish opponent.
The youngster finished fifth in his 55kg freestyle category and said his performance gave him hope for the Olympics. "There were a lot of Olympic wrestlers competing in Spain so my performances gave me confidence and I will be aiming for a medal at the Olympics," he said.
Shilimela said there will be a lot of pressure on him to do well but that he was used to it. "In the past, I've always come back with a medal when I went overseas to compete, so people now always expect me to bring a medal home. But they don't realise how difficult it will be at the Olympics where the best wrestlers in the world will be competing," he said.
Shilimela said the draw for his first round opponent would play a big role in determining his chances at the Olympics. "Hopefully I can avoid one of the favourites early on, but I aim to go far and I will only be satisfied if I win a medal."
He said he was a bit worried about his lack of competition ahead of the Olympics, with the Spain tournament being his only active competition since he qualified for the Olympics at the beginning of June.
"I would have liked to have more fights, but now it's too late. But I am not nervous, I'm looking forward to the Olympics and I will just have to take my chances," he said.
Shilimela's coach Luiz Forcelledo said he was happy with his preparation and expected him to do well. "Sem has a positive personality and he is mentally and physically well prepared. The competition will be tough, but he badly wants to win a medal so let's wait and see how he does. He's proud to be representing his country and he obviously wants to do well for his country," he said.
Shilimela said it was a dream come true when he qualified for the Olympics after winning a silver medal at the Africa and Oceania Olympic qualifiers in Morocco in June.
"Ever since I won a silver medal at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, I have been dreaming about qualifying for the Olympics. It takes discipline and focus and I had to work hard to achieve my dream. Now that I have done it, I want to make use of this chance and win a medal," he said.
Shilimela is still very young and will only turn 21 next Monday on July 30, but what he lacks in experience, he certainly makes up for in confidence.