Botswana’s young Karatekas gave local spectators at the Gaborone Open Karate Championships a glimpse of what to expect during the 2nd Africa Youth Games.
The youngsters performed admirably, hauling in a number of medals to help give Botswana a hope of medal hauls during the upcoming Africa Youth Games which will be hosted in the country in less than eight weeks’ time. After an impressive display by Botswana’s team Kata during the opening ceremony, the young guns, headed by the evergreen Khaya Groth and Phillip Rivaka took centre stage to showcase what they have.
Groth won the Kata category for the 16-17 year old boys’ category ahead of fellow teammate Totanang Ponatshego but was unlucky not to add the Kumite gold to his medal hauls.
After playing to a 5-5 draw with his South African opponent, the youngster lost the fight on a technicality and was left to rue not increasing his points tally after leading his opponent for almost the entire contest.
In the 14-15 year old boys’ Kata category, it was Rivaka who emerged victorious ahead of fellow Botswana team Kata teammate Leonard Modise. Rivaka in particular was very impressive as he performed his long and complicated Kata routines dexterously and rarely put a foot wrong. In the 14-15 year old girls’ categories, Botswana’s Thato Kgosikoma and Oratile Nkhumisang walked away with gold medals for Kata and Kumite respectively.
Another impressive display was from Gomolemo Mabolokane in the 16 -17 girls’ category where she came second in Kata and Kumite, losing to South Africa’s Cheyenne Barres in both instances. Competing in the Gaborone Open Championships as part of their preparations for the upcoming 2nd Africa Youth Games, the display would have impressed their coaches, managers and invited guests, among them the Botswana Africa Youth Games Organising Committee (BAYGOC) Chief Executive Officer Tuelo Serufho.
Still at the Gaborone Open Karate Championship, in the elite senior categories, Botswana’s Tirafalo Tsimamma came second best behind South Africa’s Rafel Reid in both the Kata and Kumite for the men’s Under 21 age category. The senior men’s Under 67 kg Kumite went to Botswana’s Leruo Masole while Kaene Kago, also of Botswana won the senior men’s over 67 kg Kumite category.
The tournament was attended by among others athletes from South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Estonia.
Meanwhile, the Botswana Hayashi Ha Karate Union Public Relations Officer (PRO) Keene Kago has hailed the tournament as a success. While athletes from Senegal and Morocco failed to show up due to Visa problems, Kago says the turn up for this year’s championships was very impressive. According to the Botswana Hayashi Ha PRO, this made for a very tough competition, something which bodes well for the future.
In view of the experienced Visa problems, Kago said the Gaborone Open organisers have decided to invite prospective participants from other countries well in time to ensure they can put the tournament in their calendars and make proper visa arrangements.
He says for next year’s tournament, the intention is that invitations be sent as early as April this year as well as during the Africa Youth Games.