Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Bakwadi gets silver at the Africa Karate Senior Championships

Botswana’s Karate athlete, Ofentse Bakwadi, brought home a silver medal from the just ended Africa Karate Senior Championships. The athlete, who was the country’s only representative at the event, got his medal in the Kumite while also reaching the semi finals in the Kata category.

The win means the local lad is now eligible to compete at the World Karate Senior Championships, which are due in Paris, France, in November this year. Being the country’s sole representative at the championships and without a coach after the country failed to send a team due to financial constraints, Bakwadi, who had also struggled to find sponsors to compete at the championships, defied the odds as he brought home a medal, beating some fancied North African opponents along the way. Speaking in an interview, Bakwadi said despite the competition proving to be very tough, everything went well.

The medal is the second successive silver for the local lad after he won his first one during the 2010 Senior Championships in South Africa.

However, things were tougher this time around, with Bakwadi facing off against some of the continent’s best in the competition.

“In the Kata, my first two opponents were from Libya and Tunisia and I managed to defeat them 4 ÔÇô 1 each. I then lost to my third opponent, who is from Egypt by a 4 ÔÇô 1 margin, which meant I now had to fight for a bronze in the third place play off. I lost this also to a Moroccan opponent with a 3 – 2 margin,” Bakwadi explained.

He said things were, however, different in the Kumite where he brushed off competitors from Congo, Benin and Senegal to book himself a place in the final where he eventually lost to a Moroccan karateka.

Despite having had a tough time against the North Africans, Bakwadi said he is optimistic local karatekas can hold their own against the North Africans.

“The advantage they have over us is that they are able to compete regularly in Europe while for us we are struggling to get there. I believe that with more exposure, we can do better against them,” he observed.

Meanwhile, Bakwadi said he is keeping his fingers crossed that he gets money to go and compete at the World Senior Championships. With his trip looking unlikely to materialize due to the Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) going through financial problems, Bakwadi said that he is optimistic something will come up.

“I am going to continue training for the World Championships as hard as I can and whether I am going or not does not matter at this moment. I want to be ready should I go. But if I do not go, I will accept it,” Bakwadi stated.

Meanwhile, BOKA President, Sensei Million Masumbika, has hailed Bakwadi for “his impressive performance at the Africa Championships”.

Speaking in an interview, Sensei Masumbika, who was at the championships in his capacity as BOKA President, said Bakwadi’s performance was very impressive, considering the quality of opponents he came up against.

“The Egyptian karateka who won against Bakwadi in the Kumite is the reigning World champion. As with other opponents he faced from North Africa, these guys are always competing in Europe and are getting better training regularly,” Sensei Masumbika said. He added that for the country to get a medal at the championships despite sending only one athlete shows Botswana’s potential to compete and win against the best.

The BOKA president reiterated that had it not been for financial constraints, the country would have sent a team to the competition and would have probably got more than one medal, considering the quality in Botswana’s karatekas.

Meanwhile, Masumbika said BOKA will try very hard to ensure that the country is represented at the upcoming World Championships. He said the BOKA executive will try to find avenues to source finances to take local Karatekas for international championships.

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