The local judo team has been sent packing in the early stages of the ongoing Africa games in Morocco following first round exist for many of the athletes.
The team, which comprised of Edwin Sello, Tirelo Lekoko, Letlhogile Tsheko, Gwafila Tema, Happy Taukobong ,Victoria Leagajang and Lucky Mabaka – all lost in the first round of the competition except for one judoka Thato Lebang who managed to progress to the second round.
Though judo has continuously shown great growth over the years with emergence of athletes like Gavin Mogopa who went on to qualify for Olympics, this is one of the dismal performance for the code.
The bad display has been attributed to poor preparations since the team mostly prepared for the tournament by training locally though the government released close to P18 million towards the preparation of the games. According to a source close to the developments, it was very critical for martial sports to embark on international training camps and learn from the best countries from across the globe.
“Since funds were released teams like karate and judo should have gone on training camps outside the country. With that we could have achieved better results. Camps in Asian countries could have helped. Right now when we talk of judo the only best player we have is Mogopa but there is still a lot to be done for him to improve too. Look at how boxing was preparing for these games; it was quite phenomenal- the same could have applied here,” said a source.
Despite the early exit from the competition, Under 73 kg fighter Lebang believes the competition was phenomenal.
“The competition was good and surprisingly the power nations of Africa judo brought their A game despite the competition being staged a week from the start of the World Judo championships in Japan. Despite my elimination in the second round by Egypt I put up a good fight and had a dominant approach but in the end of the fight my opponent found my weaknesses and knocked me out. I think it was the draw that was a bit against our favour. The team was composed of half junior and seniors and almost half of the seniors we meet with the top three African countries in judo but we gave a good fight ,” explained Lebang.
Following the poor showing the rest of the team will return home while Lebang and Sello proceed to the World Championships in Tokyo, Japan. The World championships are the biggest games in the judo calendar and are staged every two years to complement annual grand slams. Heading to the world champs Lebang has shared his plans and areas which need to be improved for local judo to prosper.
“I think we need to go back and pay close attention to the rules and using them towards our favour. We fought with good players and gave them a run for their money for their respective wins so I think our fighting preparation is good. So we just need to focus more on technical fighting and it is important for us to get funds for competitions and prepare well for the next coming competitions,” said Lebang.