Taekwondo PRO points to Senegal climate for team’s failings

Kitso Ramono

Botswana’s three-member Taekwondo team found the going tough at the Africa Olympic Qualifiers in Senegal, Dakar, earlier this week, failing to make an impact at the continental competition.

Dreams of qualifying for the Paris Olympics in August quickly faded away, the star-studded field, which included several World Champions, proving too hot to handle for the local trio.

In her first international outing, 20-year-old Karabo Pule gained valuable experience but not must else, failing to register a single point in a one-sided contest with Niger’s Zaraou Bilane.

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Confident the U/48kg fighter has a bright future despite her dark debut, Botswana Taekwondo Federation (BTF) PRO, Boleng Sedimo insisted this was just the start for Pule.

“She was unlucky. We need to engage more on her attacks because she was retreating a lot; that made her the weaker opponent, and the Niger girl capitalised on that,” Sedimo said.

Although more was expected from US-based Taekwondo twins, Ernest and Wardell Samotshozo, who have competed at this level before and have access to world class facilities and coaches, the 28-year-old brothers fared little better.

Taking part in the U/56 male categories, Wardell was knocked out in the first round, losing 2-1 to Libyan athlete, Najimuldin Birzeeq.

His heavier twin, Ernest, an U/80kg fighter, managed a single victory before falling agonizingly short in the quarter-finals, beaten 3-2 by Democratic Republic of Congo’s, Arnold Nkoy.

Summing up the Senegal trip, Sedimo noted there were a number of factors that contributed to Team BW’s less than impressive performance.

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“Overall we can do better, we have experience, tactics, we only need exposure, to have frequent international camps and tournaments to get used to the weather and altitudes of countries up in the north and middle of Africa Those guys beat us because they are used to the climate and cope with the high altitudes of the land,” he concluded.

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