The Botswana team that represented the country at the World Karate Federation (WKF) Championships in France is expected back in the country today (Wednesday).
The two-athlete team, which was led by the Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) President Sensei Million Masumbika and coached by Sensei Otto Tafa, was composed of Ofentse Bakwadi and Thato Malunga.
The team comes back home empty handed after suffering defeats at the early stages of the tournament, which came to a close this past Sunday. While it was always expected that the competition will be tough, it proved even more difficult for the local Karatekas as they lost out at the early rounds of the tournament. While Bakwadi tasted a single victory in the Kumite section of the championships but lost in the first round in Kata, Malunga had it all tough as she tasted first round defeats in both Kumite and Kata.
In her first competition in the Kata category, Malunga lost the match 4 ÔÇô 1 to Iceland’s Adalheidur Hardardottir. She then went on to lose her next match in Kata the following day 3 ÔÇô 0 to Ireland’s Rachel Earley.
In his first competition in the men’s Kata, Bakwadi lost 5 ÔÇô 0 to Jonathan Mottram of England.
However, things were slightly different in the men’s Kumite where the local lad registered a single victory.
In his first battle, Bakwadi won his encounter 8 ÔÇô 0 against Roy Gatjens of Costa Rica before losing his next encounter 3 -1 against Dimitrios Triantafyllis of Greece. Bakwadi’s loss shattered Botswana’s dreams of a medal at the championships which proved very difficult for the African Karatekas.
Only three African countries, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria managed to get on the medal table. Egypt were the pick of the African countries after winning 6 medals at the championships while Tunisia and Algeria won one medal each.
Meanwhile, on the local front, the Botswana Karate Association will conclude its calendar of events this coming Saturday by hosting Senior Team Championships at BOKA Hall. The competition will see teams from the nine federations that are affiliated to BOKA go head to head to fight for supremacy in the local arena. The Championship shall feature both Males and Females in Kata and Kumite.
Speaking in an interview, BOKA’s Public Relations Officer, Jerry Ditlhong said he expects a very tough competition as the country’s best teams fight to be crowned national champions.
“At the moment, there are no clear favourites to win the teams’ national championships. No team has entirely dominated the championships and we believe this year will also prove very tough,” Ditlhong said. After a two year win by the Botswana Hayashi Ha team, the team lost to the Botswana Shotokan team in the past year. According to Ditlhong, while there is nothing much at stake other than pride and being crowned the national team, the competition is very important as it has an impact in the final selection of the national team. The BOKA PRO said it is at this event that the technical team can gauge the performance of teams ahead of National team selections. The competition will mark the end of the BOKA calendar ahead of next year’s events.