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Judo team flops at All Africa Games

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 27 August 2019   |   By Baitshepi Sekgweng
Thato Lebang Thato Lebang Pressphoto

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.

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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.

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 “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.

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“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.

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“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.



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