The Botswana Judo Federation (BJF) has been ranked 41st at the World Cadet Championships (U17) that were held in Budapest at the Papp Laszlo Sports Arena in the second week of August.
The championships saw participation from traditional judo nations such as Japan, Russia, France, Korea, and Brazil as they showed off the best of their techniques.
Among the whole African continent, only five countries participated, among them Botswana, Algeria, South Africa, Tunisia, and Mauritius.
A total of 307 male and 221 female competitors graced the event. BJF president, Mrs Estony Hattingh, noted that the competition featured young talents, who aim to represent their countries in the first ever Youth Olympic Games to be held in Singapore in 2010.
“They are like diamond stones and need to be brought in shape little by little,” she said.
Hattingh noted that instead of the traditional seven Olympic divisions, there were eight male and eight female weight divisions.
“The lightest boys category was under 50kg (feather weight), with the extra light-weight being for judoka under 55kg (instead of 60kg). The male heavy-weight meant athletes are over 90kg (instead of over 100kg). For the girls, the scene was similar, starting with feather weight at -40kg, going up to extra light-weight at -44kg (instead of -48kg) until the heavy-weights being over 70kg (and not the traditional over 78kg),” she said.
Hattingh further said contests lasted four minutes and not five as usual and golden score lasted one minute, less than normal by two minutes.
BJF sent a delegation of three members among them, Neo Kapeko, 57kg girls, Tiroyaone Kapeko 52kg girls and Tommy Majemare 60kg boys. “Although they did not win any of their fights, I am very happy with their performance seeing as this is the first time ever that the children have participated in World Championships. They received excellent exposure for their age and now know what is expected from them at World level,” Hattingh added.
She also stated that The International Judo Federation will be announcing by the end of September members who have qualified for next year’s Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and “as Batswana we are holding our thumbs that our children made a big enough impression of the selectors”, she said. At the end of the championships, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Brazil, Italy and China finished in the top six with Japan acquiring most medals.