From Karate Kid to games guru

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 September, 2005, 12:00am

When the karate competition of the games takes place at the IPM Multisport Pavilion, Manuel Silverio will feel particularly proud. Karate was Silverio's sport in his youth, and he represented Macau in three world championships organised by the World Karate Federation: in Tokyo (1977), Madrid (1980) and Taipei (1982).

But the conditions in which he had to prepare for these and other international events were far removed from the gleaming, well-staffed sports venues springing up all over Macau.

'In those days we trained in a very small place,' he recalls. 'It was just a room in an old building that has since been demolished. The dojo was about twice the size of the cabinet in my office now and there was no air-conditioning or hot water. Now they can have hot showers, saunas and steam baths to relax after practice.'

The training session began with an unpleasant, but necessary job. 'When we started we needed to clean the toilet, and when we had finished we cleaned up the room by ourselves,' says Silverio, who took up karate in 1968 when he was 16 years old and competed for 12 years, gaining his third dan.

As the organising committee chairman surveys the stadiums that have been built for these games, his own competitive days belong in the distant past. 'The situation is totally different,' he says. 'Now, we can see the majority of sports have the best conditions in which to train.'

A life in karate was good preparation for Silverio in his task to change the image of Macau's sports scene. 'In karate you need dedication and self-confidence,' he says. 'I have been able to call on these disciplines for the East Asian Games.'