Bakwadi Makes a Comeback at the US Open Championships

Gazette Reporter

Botswana’s flamboyant karateka Sensei Ofentse Bakwadi displayed a brilliant performance at the recent United States of America (USA) Open Karate Championships held in Las Vegas over the weekend. This was his second appearance on “tatami” this year since 2020 following a long hiatus owing to COVID-19 complications.

Sensei Bakwadi competed in the senior men Kata category which is his area of speciality in Karate, and he was pitted against other 42 individuals from across the world who was contesting for the title. He made it to the last 12 where he finished 9th overall after he eliminated more than five of his opponents to make it to the last 10 missing a quarter final slot by a whisker. In an exclusive interview with Gazette Sport recently, Sensei Bakwadi said he is impressed with his performance even though his ultimate goal was to finish on podium position.

“It feels great to compete with the best karatekas in the world and I am proud of myself. Finishing 9th means a lot and it is a true reflection of hard work and determination even though I did not finish where I have wanted to be. It was a learning curve, and I am going to continue working hard until I get where I want to be. Look, I have over 2 years without training or competing because of the pandemic and I have made my first appearance on the combat mat recently at the Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) first senior national team selection and I did well. It was more important for me to get a tough test before I can fully commit to this season and now, I am ready to take on the world, starting in local competitions, regional and international,” he said.

He further stated that he intends to put the best performance of his life in all competitions for this year as he nears his retirement. “I want to compete more locally so that my followers across the country could have that opportunity to see me compete in my mother land because this might be my last year as a competing karateka. I really want to dedicate all competitions for my followers who have been supportive and key to my success as an athlete,” added Bakwadi.

He is set to compete in the second BOKA national team selection tournament on the 30th of April in Gaborone where he will be vying to earn a sport in the team that will represent the country at Africa Zone 6 championships billed for South Africa next month. He also intends to qualify for the Africa senior Karate Championships which will be his last if things go according to plan.