Young Karateka aims for historic Olympic qualification
Following the historic decision by the International Olympic Committee to include Karate as one of the five additional sport codes in the programme, many karatekas across the globe have been looking forward tom showcasing their skill on world sport’s biggest stage.
Karate’s quest to secure a place on the Olympic programme dates back to the 1970s. In 2015, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee proposed the inclusion of karate as one of five additional sports, a decision that was approved by the International Olympic Committee.
Athletes will compete at the Nippon Budokan, the spiritual home of Japanese martial arts and a legacy venue from the Tokyo 1964 Games.
Olympic karate will feature two types of events: Kumite and Kata. 60 competitors from around the world will compete in the Kumite competition, and twenty will compete in the Kata competition.
Both divisions of the competition will be split 50/50 between men and women.
However due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, the Summer Olympics that had been scheduled to begin in Tokyo this July will instead take place from 23 July to 8th August in 2021.
This has given local karateka Centy Kgosikoma motivation to be the first female karateka to make it to the Olympics.
Under the tutelage of Sensei Ofentse Bakwadi, the 20 year old is confident that she’ll be the first female Karateka to represent Botswana at the Olympics.
The Tshootsha born young lady told Voice Sport starting the male dominated sport at a young age has shaped her to become as focused as she is today.
Her dedication and discipline were eventually rewarded last year when she won a bronze medal at the 2019 UFAK Junior and Senior Championships held in Gaborone.
“I’m delighted to have won a bronze medal in that competition under the 50 kg category. It put me on the world map as I was ranked 70th on World Karate Federation (WKF) rankings,” Kgosikoma said.
She further said she was grateful to have been given an opportunity to be a part of the Karate Premier League which was staged in France early this year.
“I’m happy with the progress I’ve made thus far, and I’ll keep on working hard until I reach all my goals,” she said.
“I’m hard at work as we speak, my aim is to get a gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and eventually qualify for the 2024 World Olympics. I believe I can do it,” she said.
The 2022 Games will be held in Birmingham, England from 27th July to 7th August.
Kgosikoma who spoke highly of Lame Hetanang as the most difficult opponent she faces locally because of her experience said his meeting with Bakwadi had been a blessing in disguise,”Lame always gives me a run for my money but since training with Sensei Bakwadi, I’ve made significant improvement to my craft,” she added.