He wasn’t originally slated to go, but an East Kildonan table tennis player will face the province’s best at the Power Smart Manitoba Winter Games in March.
Euwe Makinano, 11, is set to attend the Games, which will be held in Morden, Stanley, and Winkler from March 2 to 8 after one of the other Winnipeg-area qualifiers was unable to attend. The table tennis competition will take place on the Games’ final two days.
"At first, I was a sub because I wasn’t in the top eight, but then one of them couldn’t make it," Makinano said. "It was me next."
Makinano, who has been playing for five years, said he doesn’t know exactly what to expect from the Games, as he expects to compete against plenty of new competition. It will be a similar experience to what he enjoyed two years ago, when he qualified for the Butterfly Canadian Championships in Richmond, B.C.
Makinano plays the sport competitively three times per week, and will practice every day in advance of the events.
Makinano’s father, Gerardo, was a major influence on getting him involved in the sport, and also served as one of his coaches during his development.
"He is pretty calm when he’s playing. He doesn’t really get rattled and he doesn’t really think about the consequences — winning or losing," Gerardo said. "Most kids are scared to lose, especially when they’re in big tournaments, but he’s just the opposite. Sometimes, it works against him, too, because we want him to play a safer shot, but he still plays the risky shot."
Gerardo said his son was initially reluctant to get into the sport, but when he saw other kids playing, he realized how enjoyable it can be.
Gerardo noted Euwe took part in a tournament at Sinclair Park Community Centre last year as the only child in the tournament, and he ended winning the tournament’s ‘C’ side.
Gerardo said Euwe is able to quickly pick up on the technical intricacies of the sport — something young players often struggle with — and use them against opponents.
"Euwe is a really quick learner. He learns the advanced strokes really quick, really easy," Gerardo said. "I told him how to do it (a particular advanced stroke) or ‘watch me,’ and then he’d just pick it up."
Fellow East Kildonan resident Colin Schroeder and North Kildonan resident Sam Nadurak will also make up the 17-person Winnipeg contingent.