Shoulder injury sidelines him
Once up there and promising to be one of the best karatekas that the country have ever seen, Khaya Groth has vanished from the sport a few years back and he has since informed Gazette Sport the reasons behind his inactivity from the sport.
Groth has had splendid career at a tender age as he won many international titles. Some of his achievements include winning the 2010 Junior US open gold medal. He settled for a silver and bronze medal during the 2013 Africa Karate Junior Championships; he was ranked in the World top 16 under his category in the same year. Groth also bagged two silver medals and a bronze at the 2015 Under 21 Karate Commonwealth Championships, he was the zone 6 champion in his category from 2006 to 2014.
Due to his performances, Groth was awarded with an elite scholarship by Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) in 2015 to go and study at Reading University in United Kingdom (UK). “This programme offered me a great opportunity as it meant I could train under some of the best coaches internationally in Sait Ucan,” he said. “He is a well respected coach on international levels.”
However, his excellent career was put to a stop by the shoulder injury he attained in 2017. “Some people think that when I moved to the UK is when I became inactive in karate. No, I was competing and training internationally in preparation for the 2017 Under 21 World Championships,” he explained. “ Unfortunately three weeks before the championships , I dislocated my shoulder at the German Open K1 karate tournament which led to having a second shoulder operation and that is when I started to be inactive.”
Groth stated that he spent the whole of last year recovering from the shoulder operation, his recovery was coupled with a lot of physiotherapy and strength training. “I was also in my final year so I had to focus a lot on exams. I do find it very important to maintain a balance between sports and education,” he stated. “ I have seen it first hand that a sport career may not last forever ; an injury within a three minute fight has taken me out for nearly two years and I am lucky that I have an education to fall back on.”
He said his injury has disturbed his progress in the sport as he could have achieved more by now. “With anything, the more you practice, the better you will get. Unfortunately, this also works in the opposite way – practice less and you will see a decline in performance,” Groth stated. “My injury and being out of training has had an effect on my performance. But it’s nothing that intense training and dedication cannot solve. I have been doing karate for 16 years now and it is in my blood and will always be.”
The 2008 Junior Karate Commonwealth champion is hopeful that he will return back to the sport he loves soon. “ Right now my shoulder seems to be holding up but it however does not mean I have healed completely because in 2014 I had an operation in the same shoulder,” he highlighted. “ And I thought it was healed only to have the same problem again in 2017. Right now if feels strong and I would like to start competitive training again but I can’t guarantee that I will go back into competition soon. ”
Meanwhile, he noted that if his injury does not allow him to fight again he will still be involved in karate on the coaching side. “ I would like to bring the things I learnt internationally back into Botswana . I definitely want to train the youth, as a coach I feel I can bring the international training methods to Botswana,” Groth said. “My other goal is to try and bring more unity to karate locally. I want to train at different clubs from different styles. Karate is karate and we have very strong athletes locally so my aim is to bring us all together regardless of style.”