Merrill Landmann (19 years old) started playing football at the age of four and karate at the age of nine. After a bad injury at the age of 16, she had to stop training as a professional soccer player. She didn’t give up, but she completely threw herself into martial arts. Now she has a European Championship to her name and the Olympic Games are approaching. “I played football among the boys, which went well for me, because I learned in Karate to be strong on the court.”
Not only did Merrill convert from football to karate, but she also started karate through the sport of soccer. “I was playing soccer in the schoolyard with friends until one of us hit the ball on the roof.” A woman came out and started a conversation with Meryl. “She told me that she studied martial arts in the building and asked if we would like to participate. Since then I have not been able to stay away from Karate.”
From football to karate
Football was the first sport that Merrill went out for. She studied football at the Sports and Education Center in Zwolle: School for “Youth with Sports Aspirations”, until Zwolle suffered a torn cruciate ligament. “Then it was finished right away. This recovery takes about twelve months. In the ninth month I tore the cruciate ligament again. I chose to quit football and do my best for karate.”
“You want to win”
Karate and soccer are two completely different sports, but according to Merrill, there are similarities. “I have always been a team player. Even though karate is an individual sport, there is a strong team spirit. You travel together for a tournament, often abroad. You train together and cheer each other. Of course you want to win both sports.”
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“I’m showing the best version of myself”
According to karate (this is the name of the person who practices karate), you can win the match by focusing. “When I enter a game, I forget everything around it. I am showing the best version of myself.”
This tactic appears to work well for Meryl. In 2017 she won the Wado European Championship in Switzerland. De Zwolle also became second in NK. In April 2021, she was the winner of the National Olympic qualifying tournament. “On top of that, I haven’t won that much yet,” Merrill says humbly.
Her victory in the National Olympic Qualifiers brought Merrill two things. First, she can now go to the Olympic qualifiers in Paris. There she can qualify for the Olympic Games. Second, with this victory, the Karateka qualified for the European Championship in Croatia.
Nothing to lose
She already thinks it’s cool that Meryl goes to Paris. “If I win some games there, then I am really happy. I have nothing to lose. I play against the top in Paris. Often these women are 10 years older and have more experience.” Focuses on Paris first, Tokyo will come later. “If I get to the Olympics, that will be really cool.”
What if Meryl wants to continue karate for the rest of her life? “Well, football is also starting to itch again.”