Karate national team star Sensei Thato Malunga of SSG Karate Club is in Brussels, Belgium, for a two-week training camp that started yesterday (Saturday) and will end at the end of the month.
He is sponsored by the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) under the Zebra Fund, which helps elite athletes to prepare for major tournaments.
It is expected that the training camp will give the 26-year-old a head start as she prepares for this year’s World Karate Federation (WKF) international tournaments.
The camp has been welcomed by Malunga, who said it is only proper that she starts training as early as now in order for her to adjust to new techniques and dynamics that she will acquire in Belgium to improve whilst gauging herself in preparatory tournaments.
“I am hoping that what I will learn will sustain me for the whole year because this is going to be a very hectic one in terms of tournaments that are already lined up for us both regionally and internationally,” Malunga said.
“We are always advised to start training at the beginning of the year so that we have much time to perfect ourselves in the pre-season,” she said.
She further stated that her stay in Belgium will give her opportunity to train with the best karateka in the world.
Malunga further said she expects to improve her world rankings prior to the international events so as to have an advantage during tosses in tournaments.
“I will have an opportunity to attend the 1st karate league 1 tournament which will be held in Paris, France. This tournament is just like attending the WKF World Championships and all champions attend such tournaments to improve their rankings, so this will help me too,” she explained.
“If I perform well, 2017 will be a walkover for me. If I don’t perform well then I know where to improve and what to do,” added Malunga.
She said preferred Belgium over other karate dominating nations because that’s where many world champions and best performers train in preparations for their season under the guidance of good coaches and experts.
“For me Belgium is the base of the world’s best coaches and that’s where world champions all over the world go in order to better their skills. The likes of Rafael Aghaev from Azerbaijan who won Gold at last year’s Karate World Championships and other best karateka go there. Just imagine what training under his coach can do for me,” she said.
Malunga also cited her intentions to scoop gold medal in at least three international events.
“For the WKF Karate League 1, I have no target but to just go there and give my all. As for Kofukan World Championship, Zone 6, Commonwealth and UFAK, I am aiming for gold
Having been nominated for the BNSC sportswomen of the year award a number of times and having failed to net it, Malunga has also set her eyes on winning it.
Meanwhile, Sensei Ofentse Bakwadi and Lame Hetanang who attended the world championships last year have arrived back in the country from a training camp which was held during the festive season in Hong Kong.
The duo, who were accompanied by the upcoming karate ace Thabang Setshego, were sponsored through the Zebra fund.