Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
IT’S that time of the year when the karate family comes together for the annual AfricaBet Champion of Champions tournament hosted by the Zimbabwe Karate Union.
This year’ tournament is slated for December 1 at the City Sports Centre in Harare with karatekas from both semi and full contact styles fighting for honours in various categories.
The categories will range from the children’s section (seven to 13 years), cadets (14 to 15 years), juniors (16 to 17 years), Under-21, seniors and veterans (35 and above).
ZKU technical director semi-contact, Gerald Muusha confirmed the date for the tournament and AfricaBet are the main sponsors of the event. Muusha said with karate (semi-contact) now part of the Olympics they are optimistic of an exciting event which is also a platform to select the provisional squad to represent the country in major events.
“It’s something that will motivate them. The level of competition we expect it to be much better than last year. Like when the news broke that karate will be part of the Olympics, it changed the attitude of every athlete in semi-contact because everyone would want to take part in the Olympics.
“Normally what we do with the Champion of Champions, it gives us what we call the provisional team whereby we take the top three to form that provisional team and we will be assessing them.
“So it’s the basis of the provisional team . . . but their performance in the next coming competitions will let them qualify for major competitions,” said Muusha.
Karate will make its debut at the Summer Olympic Games in 2020, in Tokyo, Japan and qualification is based on international ranking that will take into account some of the biggest karate tournaments in the world. The ZKU technical director said while they are hoping to wrap up their 2018 season with another competitive event, it has not been a favourable year for them after missing some major competitions due to financial constraints. “Basically the year 2018 wasn’t so successful in the view that we didn’t have enough funds to take athletes to international events. We were supposed to go for UFAK (African Championships) in Rwanda but we only took one athlete.
“Last week we witnessed the World Championships in Spain, those athletes who went to the African Championships in Rwanda were supposed to go to the World Championships. You find that those big events form the basis for selection to the Olympics,” said Muusha.