While the Indian cricket team struggled to notch a win against the South Africans in their own backyard, a nine-year-old girl from Mumbai knocked them over, albeit in a different sport.
Muskkan Shah – who has been training in karate since the age of four – won the gold medal in Kumite Girls Hiai in the sixth Karate-Do Gojukai Championships recently defeating a series of opponents from South Africa, Iran and India.
The 160-member contingent from South Africa, headed by Frank Brandon, won 21 medals in total and were one of the toughest to beat. But it was a cakewalk for Shah who won her first National Championships in 2012.
“She picked the sport from her brother Akassh who is also a karateka and had won a bronze medal in Commonwealth Games of Karate held in South Africa (2009),” says her mother Kanchan. Her mother added that when she was taken to Cricket Club of India to her brother’s instructor, “She only observed others for months. And within two-and-a-half years, she won the State Championship”. She was only six then.
This prodigy from NSS Hill Spring International School is also into ballet and has a degree from Royal Academy School, London. “Performing ballet made me flexible. Karate made me disciplined. Both add to my fitness,” she said.
Reacting to the tough opponents, she said: “Kaylee Naidoo (her opponent in the final from South Africa) was hitting very hard. So I retorted. I punched her so hard in the stomach that she started crying during the match,” added Muskkan.