The Botswana Hayashi Ha Karate Union is hoping more international athletes will grace the 4th edition of the Gaborone Open Karate Championships.
This comes after a host of local companies came forward to sponsor this year’s championships.
The sponsors, who include among others, the championship’s diamond sponsor Debswana as well as Nandos, Mascom Wireless, Western Union, Properties and Home and computer networking company, Apex Holdings, have put forth a combined sponsorship worth more than P200 000 towards the championships.
The combined effort of the companies sees a sharp rise in the sponsorship value of the championships which had been standing at around P80 000.
According to the Botswana Hayashi Ha Karate Union Public Relations Officer (PRO) Kaene Kago, this year’s edition promises to be the biggest since the tournament was incepted four years ago.
Speaking in an interview after the launch of tournament sponsors this past Thursday, Kago said they are expecting Karatekas from across the globe to compete in what is now Botswana’s biggest Karate Open championship.
With many young African Karatekas now preparing for the 2nd Africa Youth Games due to be hosted in Gaborone in about 80 days’ time, the Botswana Hayashi Ha Karate spokesperson said some African teams are expected in the country as part of preparations for the games.
He said as such, there is a high possibility that Karatekas from African powerhouses like Senegal may also come to Botswana to compete in the championships.
“We are also expecting the Botswana youth team that will be representing us in the Africa Youth Games to compete in the tournament as part of their preparations,” Kago explained.
Aside from the games being used by junior athletes for their games, the games will also prove popular among elite athletes given the monetary prizes at stake. With the Gaborone Open Karate championships being the only local tournament where there is monetary benefit, a host of local and international athletes will be expected to descend in Botswana to try their luck.
Unlike in the past years where only the winner took all money home, Kago said the organisers have made a few adjustments to ensure the competition in the elite category gets stronger and more attractive.
“We have realized that the approach of winner takes all is capable of discouraging other elite athletes from competing. As such, we have now decided that there will also be prize monies for the second and third positions as well,” Kago explained. Another change in the elite competition, according to the Botswana Hayashi Ha PRO is the reduction of the categories from five to three.
While in the past championships the weight categories were for Under 60, Under 67, Under 75, Under 84 and Over 84 kg, this year, there will only be the Under 60, Under 67 and Over 67 kg categories.
According to Kago, under the past system, there were not many Karatekas in the heavier weight categories, something which made the categories very weak and was not beneficial for the athletes competing as there was not much competition. The championships will be held on the 15th of this month (March) at the Al Nuur English Medium School Hall.