- Wins the country’s first taekwondo medal at the competition
- First Motswana aged 16 to win a medal at the competition
Karabo Kula has made history by being the first taekwondo fighter from Botswana to win a medal at the African Games ever since they were incepted in 1965, she is also the first Motswana aged 16 to win a medal at the competition which is held after every four years.
To attain the historic feat, the local taekwondo wonderland (U 46kg) defeated Sadia Kembi of the Central African Republic with a 38-17 score point in the preliminary round before edging past Fadia Farhani of Tunisia with a 23-21 score line in the quarterfinals. Farhani was ranked in the top 10 in the world at the time. Kula’s victories were put to an end by Michelle Tau (Lesotho) in the semifinals after handing the local fighter a 20-18 defeat ensuring that she comes home with a bronze medal. The competition had no loser’s finals fights and those who were defeated in the semifinals were awarded with bronze medals
Speaking in an interview with Gazette Sport following her impressive performances at the games, Kula noted that she was happy with her performance as she never thought she would win a medal at continental level at a young age. “It is unbelievable, I never saw it coming,” said Kula. “But I worked hard for this as in some instances I would train for more than five hours in a day. I never had time to go to the mall and meet friends because I had to train from Monday until Sunday.”
Kula’s success in the African Games has earned her a spot in the Olympic qualifiers billed for Morocco next year February on which she is hoping to do well as she wishes to be part of team Botswana for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Her coach Gladys Njoroge believes the 16 year old did well at the games due to her dedication, hard work and patience. “She hang on even if she endured all the pain as a young female and we can now see results for that. We have seen girls dropping at a certain age but she hanged on to train even at odd hours,” Njoroge noted. She said she saw Kula’s impressive performances coming as she has been tremendously improving in the past six years that they have been working together.
In analyzing Kula’s fights, Njoroge noted that her athlete always possessed skills and power as well as robust understanding of the rules and regulations for the game something that resulted in her winning fights. “And that was evident when she defeated the Tunisian girl who is ranked in the top 10 in the world,” she noted. “With that it shows that Kula understands the sport very well because I mean in taekwondo you can be a good fighter but if you do not understand what it takes to be there in terms rules and regulations then there is no how you can do well.”
Njoroge went on to note that they will now divert their attention to the Olympics as she wants her to qualify. “Actually our program was specifically not for the African Games as we saw ourselves ahead at the Olympics, we will continue with the program and work in some of the experiences we learnt from these games because I want her to qualify,” she highlighted.
She however bemoaned the level of taekwondo in Botswana stating that it lacks continuity, “we had the best team in Botswana during the 2014 African Youth Games in which we got two medals but we did not have continuity. Would we had that continuity, we would be really far, not only in the region or continent but globally; but sometimes it is how it goes but there is always room for improvement.”