25 July 2012

Namibia: Shilimela Aches for Olympic Start

London — WRESTLER Sem Shilimela is eager to get his Olympic quest underway and has started training earnestly with his Cuban coach Luis Forcelledo since arriving in London at the weekend.

A prodigious talent, the 20-year-old has set himself a target of a medal - of which the colour is unspecified - at the Summer Games.

Shilimela said there would be a lot of pressure on him to do well but that he was used to it.

He turns 21 on July 30, but what he lacks in experience, he certainly makes up for in confidence.

"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 recently competed at an international wrestling tournament in Spain where he won two bouts against wrestlers from Moldova and Kazakhstan, while he lost one bout to a wrestler from Turkey.

Shilimela eventually 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," said the wrestler.

Although confident, youngster said he was a bit concerned about his lack of regular 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.

Shilimela has spent much of the past two years honing his skills at a High Performance Wrestling Centre in Dakar, Senegal.

While progress was initially slow, he has steadily come into his own in recent times.

"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.

His coach, Luis 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," Forcelledo 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.

Since then he has been pushing himself at his Dakar training base and feels he is ready to do well in London.

"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.

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