Briefing the media in Gaborone yesterday, the coach, Mpho Bakwadi, said Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) has chosen the best talent for the event. He said BOKA monitored the performance of a number of karatekas but in the end settled for the six who showed consistency. "The athletes have been training since the beginning of the year and they have competed in numerous international tournaments such as the Zone VI and the Africa Championships where they performed well," he said. Despite the tough competition expected in Serbia, he believes that the team will come back with medals. He said the likes of Ofentse Bakwadi have performed well in international competitions. The team has been training over the last month.
BOKA president, Gift Nkwe said they had assembled probably the strongest squad ever to participate at the championships. "We were considering those athletes we feel are at their peak which is why the likes of Moses Jones have been left out," he said. He added that they could have sent more karatekas to Serbia if they had money. "Just sending one athlete to the tournament costs us around P30, 000 and a full team would cost us around P400, 000 which is too much for us," he said.
The team consists of five men and a woman. Nkwe attributed the imbalance to the fact that some women were writing their senior school leaving examinations. He said BOKA has been struggling to attract female athletes. "We still need to do a lot of work to retain women in karate," he said.
The tournament starts on Wednesday with the kata and kumite eliminations. On Thursday, the six Botswana karatekas will be in action in kata and kumite. Team kata and kumite competitions will be held on Friday.
The team returns on November 2.
Full team: Men
Ofentse Bakwadi (Under 60kg), Kaene Kago (Under 67kg), Oratile Caiphus (Under-75kg), Tebogo Molapong, and Kabelo Molefe.
Thato Malunga (Under-55kg)
Kemmonye Seletamotse (manager), Sensei Bakwadi (coach), Steady Basupeng (referee).