- Qualifying for the Olympics is on karate agenda
- BOKA team presently in camp at top facility in Paris
- Three-bronze medalist Bakwadi aims to do even better
The team that will represent Botswana at the Africa Karate Championships has tasked with bringing home four medals, Gazette Sport has established.
The championships, which are also one of the Olympics qualifying tournaments, will take place in Tangier, Morocco from 7th to 10th instant. Presently in a training camp in Paris, France the coach of the Botswana team, China Metswi, believes that they are better prepared than ever before for these championships.
So confident is Metswi that he says his charges are ready to conquer Africa because they are in rigorous preparations at one of the world’s best facilities, the Maccabi Paris Arts Martiaux. “It is a very welcoming facility as the karatekas are training in comfort,” he said by phone from Paris.“They also took part in the Paris Open tournament that was useful for spotting the team’s weaknesses so we and work on them before the championships.”
One of the karate athletes, Ofentse Bakwadi, agrees with his sensei that the Paris training camp is highly beneficial to them. “We are able to train twice a day, which is difficult to do when we are in Botswana,” Bakwadi said. “The kumite karatekas have been fighting with different athletes on a daily basis, soaking up a wealth of exposure and experience.”
Speaking for himself, Bakwadi – who won three bronze medals at the African championships last year – said he expects competition to be especially tough in Morocco this time around. “That is because it is the last continental competition before the Olympics and everyone wants to win, including me,” he noted. “But tough or not tough, I am going all out to win it. I have done it before and I can do it again. But my main aim is the final Olympic qualification tournament that will be held in Paris in May. I want to be in the best shape when that tournament arrives.” According to his self-assessment, he needs to work hard on his kata and on improving his overall athletic performance if he is to qualify for the Olympics.
Meanwhile, the team that will represent Botswana in Morocco is made up of Bakwadi, Lemogang Koolopile, Vincent Magalie, Kagiso Mophuting and Gofaone Mosupiemang for the men’s section while Entle Maungwa, Centy Kgosikoma and Lethabo Sekano will compete in the women’s categories. Botswana won 13 medals at last year’s Africa Karate Championships which were held in Gaborone.