Local karatekas put up a good fight against Hong Kong in this year’s Gabs Open Karate Championship held at Al Nur School on Saturday.
The annual championship attracted athletes from as far as Hong Kong, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Having invited karatekas from Estonia last year, the Botswana Karate Association (BKA) issued invites to four individual karate champions from Hong Kong.
While the visitors brought a lot of experience, the locals did not just sit back and watch the show. They took the fight to the visitors.
Local karateka, Tsholofelo Maduma emerged victorious in a tough final against Tsang Yee Ting from Hong Kong in the ladies elite kumite. Maduma showed no respect for the Hong Kong kumite women sensation and beat her to walk away with the P1, 000 prize money, a trophy and gold medal. The South African duo of Nicole Luther and Tazmin Rowe were joint third and won bronze medal.
The day got even better for the locals as Thabang Setshego beat another Hong Kong kumite prodigy Lee Chun Ho in the male under 67KG elite kumite category. The 2014 African Youth games under 55 male kumite champion displayed his wonderful skills against Lee. He took home the P1000 prize money, a trophy and a gold medal. Kabelo Molefe came third and won the bronze medal and P500 prize money.
The visitors, however, returned with guns blazing in the male over 67KG kumite, with Lee Ka Ywai beating Botswana’s China Metswi in the final to claim the P1500 coveted prize, a trophy and gold medal. Metswi won P750, a trophy and silver medal. Carlos Dambe came third to win a bronze medal and P500.
In the male elite kata, Chriz Tsz Men Chen from Hong Kong won the P1000 prize money, a trophy and gold medal. Botswana’s Leonard Modise came second taking home P750, a trophy and a silver medal. The South African duo of Ben Blignaut and Luca Belfi came joint third and each won P500, trophies and bronze medals. After the competition, Chen told SportMonitor that Botswana athletes had strength in kumite as compared to kata. “The competition in Botswana is tough and I did not expect this much,” he said.
For his part, the Botswana Kumite sensation Setshego said he did not give the visitors any respect. “I knew I had to prove myself. I entered the final with some nerves, but eventually I gave my best,” he said.
The tournament organiser Sensei Mpho Bakwadi told SportMonitor that by inviting Hong Kong champions, they wanted to bring more international experience. “In its 5th edition, this tournament is growing every year and we are thankful for everyone who graced this year’s tournament,” he said. Bakwadi also thanked the sponsors, Western Union and Boitekanelo for a well-planned event.