Bronze battalion

Kitso Ramono

Karate teens impress at Africa Championships

Three high-flying karate kids did the nation proud in Morocco, Casablanca, last week, kicking and punching their way to three bronze medals at the just-ended African Championships.

Competing in the junior category, the teenage trio of: Ksa Nsala, Gabriel Molefe and Lefika Mooketsi, all aged 17, combined forces brilliantly, showing excellent technique to finish third in the Team Kata category.

Continuing this fine form in their respective Kumite events, Nsala and Molefe then sparred their way to a place on the podium’s bottom tier, Mooketsi narrowly missing out with a fifth-placed finish.

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The three medals saw Botswana claim 12th place in the 14-nation competition – a repeat of their efforts at the 2022 championships in South Africa, when they won a single silver.

Reflecting on his young charges’ performance, National Team Coach, Ofentse Bakwadi, told Voice Sport he was extremely proud, especially considering this was their first time competing at continental level.

“I know we’re still in the same position as last year, but consider this: last year we sent more than ten athletes to the championship in South Africa and only got one medal, whereas this year we only sent three and they came back with three medals. This is a sign of progress!” insisted Bakwadi.

The Karate legend added the local lads fell short against a familiar foe: fighters from Arab nations.

“Every time we compete in international competitions like this one, be it in Europe, East and West Africa, Arabian athletes always win or deny us gold or silver medals, just like what happened here,” he said.

To take the sport to the next level, Bakwadi called for training camps or exchange programmes with Arabian countries so they can learn from the best.

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Proving Bakwadi is on to something, the hosts Morocco topped the Union of African Karate Federations (UFAK) Cadet, Junior and Senior Championships with 37 medals, closely followed by Egypt on 33.

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