Bakwadi's Olympic hopes suffer blow

Bakwadi wants to make it to the Olympics
Bakwadi wants to make it to the Olympics

Karate sensation, Ofentse ‘Shaykex’ Bakwadi’s hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were dented when he lost in the first round at the Dubai 2019 Karate Premier League 1 last week.

Bakwadi admitted competition was tough, which is why he fell at the first hurdle.  He said the new kata refereeing system is complex and he is still trying to figure it out.
“It was a self-sponsored trip and that on its own, took a toll on me. At the same time I had to figure out a strategy to impress the referees and get high marks,” he said.

Bakwadi said it was hard to travel without a coach because if the coach was present, he was going to shoot videos for analysis after the tournament. “It is stressful and demoralising. Imagine being broke and losing.  The loss has affected my Olympic dream,” he said.

Bakwadi still has a chance to qualify for the Olympics, as there are still other qualifiers, but his major challenge is funding, to enable him to attend the international competitions.

Meanwhile, Bakwadi would be competing at the Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) senior national team selection in Gaborone tomorrow.
He said the competition would assist him as he prepares for another international tournament.

Stiff competition is expected in the senior male individual kata between Bakwadi and Tlotlang Ponatshego.

The two have been giving each other a run for their money with Ponatshego finishing second in the past two years. Ponatshego said he has been preparing for the selection since last year.

“I have been pushing myself hard and did not even take a break during the festive season. In the past I realised that I did not put enough time into my preparation.  This time around I have changed my strategy,” he said.

Ponatshego would also face-off against Gofaone Mosupiemang in the 75kg kumite. Mosupiemang won a silver medal at the 2018 African Karate Federations Union (UFAK) Championships in Rwanda.  Other youngsters who graduated from Under-21 such as Teto Wakwena and Thebe Duna are expected to cause an upset.

An exciting competition is expected in the women’s kata where Entle Maungwa and Centy Kgosikoma square off.  Maungwa won a bronze at the UFAK Championships last year.
Kgosikoma said she has been working hard to make sure that she is in good shape for tomorrow’s competition. 

BOKA spokesperson, Isaiah Ramontshonyana said the selection process is meant to come up with a team to represent the country at the Zone VI and UFAK Championships.
“We are also faced with a challenge of developing karatekas.  The crop that we have in the senior team has to be replaced soon because when you look at it, we are not doing well in junior development,” he
said. Christopher Ponatshego has been appointed as the senior national team coach, assisted by Peter Molefe and Keone Kgorotlhe.

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