- Already has 3 silvers (2 individual and 1 team kata) from the Games
- The 5th dan black belt is national champion and in Africa’s Top 10
- Bakwadi acknowledges threat posed by younger karatekas
Botswana’s flamboyant karateka, Sensei Ofentse Bakwadi, is aiming to win his first-ever gold medal at the Commonwealth Games before he bows out of the tatami (combat mat) after 30 years of action.
Not an unrealistic goal
This is not an unrealistic goal because the man is Botswana’s national kata champion and he is ranked in the top 10 in Africa.
The Games are billed for Birmingham, England from 3 to 7 September where Botswana will be represented in both individual and team events (kata and kumite).
Sensei Bakwadi will be making his fourth appearance at the Commonwealth Games where he previously won 3 silver medals (2 individual and 1 team kata) in Australia and South Africa respectively.
He will compete in individual and team kata alongside Boemo Ramasimong and Kagiso Mophuting.
No looking back
In an exclusive interview with Gazette Sport recently, Bakwadi – who is also a 5th dan black belt – said he was ready to compete against the best in the world and perform to his best in honour of his retirement from the sport at the end of the year.
“This time around I am going for gold and I am very confident that I will win,” he said. “I have been training very hard at the dojo and have improved my skills and technique. I am going for gold and there is no looking back.”
“I want to win the gold for my country and to thank everyone who has supported me for the past 30 years as a karateka. I have been learning from every tournament in which I have competed, especially at the international level. I believe I know how to perform under any circumstances now, hence my confidence that I am winning that gold medal.”
But the 36-year old is not oblivious of the threat from other karatekas, especially the younger ones who are eager to prove themselves, and actually acknowledges it.
“I am very sure that every top karateka in the world will be present at these Games and everyone has been preparing thoroughly,” he said. “There are good young karatekas who are still fresh and energetic and will be targeting people like us who have been in the sport for the longest time.
“But that doesn’t worry me that much because I really want to win my gold where the competition is tough, not in a walkover. That’s why I have been putting more efforts in my training.”
Sensei Bakwadi will be left with only one continental competition after the Commonwealth Games, which is Senior Africa Championships (UFAK) that is billed for Durban, South Africa in November before he officially retires from active karate, according his plans.
Teto Wakwena, Quinton Mosupiemang and Oratile Caiphus are among other karatekas with him in Team Botswana that will leave for Birmingham on Thursday (tomorrow) this week.