Coach Owiti wary of second Karate championships miss
Team Kenya Karate Head Coach Bob Owiti said the fear of missing a second successive championship haunts them as they seek to represent the country during at the 16th Senior and 8th Junior UFAK Championships set for May 19-21 in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
The team missed the Australia Open Karate Championships last year due to lack of funding with the Kenyan government turning its back on them when they sought last resort help.
Speaking at the ongoing Kenya National Individual Karate Championships at the Kenya Prisons Training College in Ruiru, Owiti refused to count solely on the sole support of the government as he rallied potential sponsors to come to their aid.
“You know apart from the several donors that we have the government still remains our main source. I’m appealing to the government to make sure nothing holds back the boys and girls from flying to Cameroon. At times we go to the government only for them to claim that they do not have any money. It’s this that puts me on the edge of my toes keeping in mind that anything is possible,” he stated.
He warned that it would be a major setback for the Kenyan karatekas not to feature in the continental showpiece, as it would shatter their big dream of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games that will be held in Tokyo,Japan.
“For us the continental outing is of utmost importance. If by any chance we happen to miss then we are out of the picture,” he declared.
According to Owiti, the International Karate Federation will draw a list of participants for the Olympic Games based on their continental performance with each top athlete in any given weight at Yaounde booking their berths in Tokyo.
The Kenya Karate Federation has been conducting a three day tourney from March 1- 3, which they will use to select a formidable team that will fly the country’s flag in Cameroon.
Owiti who is also the Technical Commissioner for the Kenyan Federation lauded individual sponsors had helped facilitate the event.
He added that their donations of medals and trophies had elevated the profile of the national contest.
The event had two major disciplines in KUMITE (fighting category) and KATA (demonstrating category) in which both genders, seniors and juniors participated.
Kenyans will wait till they arrive at the West African country to learn of their opponents after a draw is conducted.
The canny and gifted North Africans will pose a threat to Kenya’s dominance at the African Championships.
“Egypt ,Tunisia,Morocco,Algeria and Senegal to name a few will definitely offer a big challenge.We will do our best to see that we are in very good shape in case we are drawn against them.All in all it won’t be that easy,” he warned.
A group of 26 karatekas, comprising of men and women drawn from the junior and senior categories plus four officials will travel to Cameroon for the continental assignment.
Kenyan women will be aiming to improve on the third-place finish they obtained in the 2015 Continental Championships while the men side will have to dig deeper if they are to put behind the faltering campaign they had in the same competition.
-Report by Mwangi Githinji.
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