One of the country’s most decorated karatekas Sensei Ofentse Bakwadi has vowed to improve on his previous performance when he enters the dojo again at the World Karate Federation (WKF) World Championships.
The tournament takes place in Madrid, Spain on November 5 -12, 2018. The biennial competition features all karate styles from across the world with athletes competing for supremacy in kata and kumite.
The last time Bakwadi competed at the event was in 2016 where he was knocked out in the preliminary stages. However things have since changed as the 32-year-old has performed impressively well in the past two years. He won gold in male kata at the Africa Karate Senior Championships and International Hayashi-Ha Championships in 2017.
He recently won silver at the UFAK Africa Senior Championships in Rwanda as well as gold during the Africa Zone VI Championships in Gaborone in June. Bakwadi also made history last year at the Union Federation of African Karate (UFAK) Championships when he became the first ‘black African Kata champion’. Therefore, he will be desperate to go one better at this year’s championships.
In an interview before he left for Spain on Thursday, Bakwadi declared his readiness for the tournament.
“This is one of the biggest competitions in the calendar of karate so it is very tough there because all the best athletes converge there. Last time I was knocked out in the preliminary stages of the tournament so I have been working hard though it is not as much as I would have liked to. I want to use this tourney to gauge myself against international athletes because it’s been a while since I competed at this level due to financial constraints,” said Bakwadi.
Though the tournament falls under the WKF and is highly regarded, ‘Shaykex’ as Bakwadi is popularly known, is sponsoring himself to attend, something which he described as being difficult.
He has funded himself to various tournaments around the world before such as the Karate 1 Premier Leagues in Dubai, Amsterdam and Istanbul.
“Money is always a problem and even right now I still need some funds to push here and there. So my wish is for corporate companies to come on board and so that I attend more tournaments and seize the opportunity to increase my points and rankings and increase my chances of qualifying for Tokyo 2020 Olympics,” said Bakwadi.
Currently ranked 30th in the world, Bakwadi needs to be among the 10 highest ranked Karatekas if he is to qualify, a feat that is not so easy to achieve. “The quest to qualify for Olympics is still in there and this means more travelling in order to attend premier tournaments in order to gain more points and go up the rankings. There are numerous fund raising initiatives that I have embarked on like selling T-shirts and very soon we will be hosting a dinner event. So I appeal to various companies to come on board and support me,” he said.