Botswana karateka’s trip to Dubai flops

… thanks for BOKA’s failure to register him

By Baitshepi Sekgweng

Because of Botswana Karate Association’s (BOKA) failure to register him on time, Botswana’s karateka Lemogang Koolopile will not compete in the World Karate Federation (WKF) Premier League -1.

The fight is billed for Dubai, United Arab Emirates from the 15 to 18 February.

The plan was for Koolopile to use the tournament to increase his chances of making it to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan by gaining more ranking points.

Said a crestfallen but gracious Koolopile: “Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend the tournament due to a minor problem that occured this side. I had asked BOKA to do the registration for me but things didn’t go well.

”They tried but failed. I understand that they wrote to WKF but it was already late because every category has a limit of 64 athletes. By the time the association tried to register me, the limit had already been met.”

He is not letting this flop get him down and is looking to attending the next premier league event in April in Rabat, Morocco. “Everything was already in place,” he told Global Sport. “I had secured a sponsor for my trip to Dubai, and so depending on how my sponsor will take this issue, I will attend the same tournament at Rabat in Morocco in April.

The Rabat event is slated for 6 to 8 April and is the only karate premier league in Africa where most prominent karate athletes meet in an open championships of unprecedented scale and quality.

Quizzed on whose fault it was for his failure to make it to Dubai, Koolopile was a marvel of grace. “I did my part, and BOKA did their part. They even helped with my fundraising. My club also helped, so it’s nobody’s fault really because I was there when the registration process was being done and it was already late. I saw everything being rejected because all the spots were already full.”

Contacted for comment BOKA spokesman Isaiah Ramontshonyana said he was aware of Koolopile’s situation but distanced the association from the failure to register the athlete. “I heard he spoke to someone at BOKA to register him but the truth off the matter is that people self-register,” Ramontshonyana said.

“The reason for self-registering is that aspiring participants must provide banking details for the WKF to draw registration fees from their accounts. And this tournament is open to everyone, so we can’t really stop anybody from competing there.”

Meanwhile, Koolopile says his attention will shift to national team selections that are currently ongoing across the country. “I am putting all my energy in the national team selections because they are also part of road to Tokyo,” he told Global Sport.

“Selections for the junior teams are done and dusted, now it’s time for us seniors.”