National senior Karatekas squared up for the Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) senior national team first leg selection on Saturday in Gaborone, ahead of the upcoming regional and international tournaments (Africa championships and Zone 6).
The tournament will be held over three legs, using points system to grade and select national team karatekas in both Kata and kumite. Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) spokesperson Sensei Jerry Ditlhong said they are happy with the tournament turn out as it was a true reflection of the determination of local karatekas after they missed out on some of last year’s major tournaments.
“There were new faces in different categories who did exceptionally well in kumite,more especially in the under 60kg where Baatlareng Shabane and Rafael Reid (both new faces) scooped Gold and Silver respectively in the absence of the national champion Ofentse Bakwadi who competed only in Kata,” explained Ditlhong.
In the first leg tournament that was held this past weekend at the University of Botswana (UB) all eyes were on the under 75kg men category, comprising of Mpho Bosenakitso,Oratile Caiphus and Carlos Dambe amongst the others. It was the usual suspects; Mpho Bosenakitso of Francistown based Kagiso karate club and Oratile Caiphus of SSKB Karate club in the under 75kg kumite final that was held under the electrifying atmosphere of jam-packed spectators cheering on their club representatives. Caiphus swept past his arch-rival Bosenakitso 5-4 in the hard fought final that kept spectators on their feet.
“Luck was not on my side this time around, because I fought very well. I did exactly what I have been doing in training and I controlled the whole match. However I lost in the end,” said Bosenakitso.
For his part Oratile Caiphus said it was just a warm up match from a long festive break, but maintained that he remains wary of the threat posed by his opponents. Bosenakitso tasted his first defeat in the under 75kg after going two years unbeaten. In the ladies section All Africa games bronze medalist Thato Malunga dominated the under 65kg catergory, scooping two gold medals in both Kata and Kumite while Tsholofelo Maduma remained on top of the under 61 managing a gold medal in kumite.
The 2nd leg will be held beginning of March in the city of Francistown where karatekas are expected to up their game in their quest to make it to the senior national team.
“We are expecting a tough second round in Francistown, those who did not do well still have a chance to redeem themselves as there are two more rounds to go,” said Sensei Ditlhong.
All athletes who do well in the championships will earn themselves a national team slot ahead of the Africa senior championships to be held in Gabon mid-April.