Johannesburg: Indian-origin toddler Khiyara Seedat has become South Africa's youngest ever national karate champion, just a day after her third birthday last week.
Khiyara, the daughter of karate instructor Sensei Ahmed Shaheen Seedat, had to compete against a five-year-old because there was no one to fight against in her age category at the South African Karate and Kickboxing Championships.
Seedat, who holds a third dan (rank) black belt in the sporting code after starting out when he was eight, said his daughter had shown a love for karate when she was just 16 months old.
Watching her father and his friends kicking and punching away when he took her to karate school one day, he and his wife Laila were initially surprised to find her imitating the moves in her cot that night.
Even though the smallest available karate outfit known as a gi was twice her size, Khiyara insisted on wearing it daily until she grew into it almost two years later.
Noticing Khiyara's rapid progress compared to other children older than her, Seedat's trainer Abdul Lattief Jogi encouraged him to enter his daughter in the national championships and spent six months preparing her for it.
Sixth dan black belt holder Jogi said Khiyara had done everyone proud, but he was particularly overjoyed that he had been able to teach both her and her father, who was like a son to him.