Karate South Africa (KSA) won 14 medals (one silver and 13 bronze) in the Kumite events (cadets and juniors) during the African Karate Championships, which ended in Morocco on Sunday.
A beaming KSA head coach Shine Banyane said the achievement surpassed their expectations.
Speaking to the Free State Weekly via telephone yesterday upon the team’s arrival at the OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, Banyane said the achievement showed that KSA was not just participating in international competitions for the sake of numbers.
“A lot of times when we go to international tournaments, you get the feeling that people think we are there to just add numbers, but as you can see we continue to prove the doomsayers wrong,” he said.
At the end of the tournament, South Africa came sixth in the Top 10 best performing countries.
“Things couldn’t have played out more different for us and it’s amazing that we ended up in the Top 10. This is of brilliant for us really,” he added.
Hosts Morocco won the championships, scooping 37 medals (15 gold, 13 silver, and nine bronze) ahead of second-placed Egypt with 29 medals and Algeria in third place with 20 medals, including nine gold.
Banyane conceded that this year’s tournament was full of surprises. “Look, I personally went in there with a target of five medals, which we surpassed by far. But for Morocco to come out tops ahead of Egypt and Algeria, I don’t think anyone saw that one happening.”
The Black Cheetah, as he’s affectionately known, said the results proved that the leadership of KSA was headed in the right direction.
“I don’t doubt that KSA is on the right path. The selection of players who’ll then come together as a team is a tough process but when you look at the results, everyone has justified their inclusion in the side and this makes our job more difficult going forward,” he noted.
The competition was organised by the Royal Moroccan Federation of Karate and Associated Disciplines (FRMK) and attended by 400 karatekas representing 29 African countries. It is now in its 19th edition for the senior category, 11th for the juniors and third for the cadets.
The best karatekas from across the continent took part in the event to gain points for qualification to the Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo.
In addition to the official competitions, the programme included several activities such as a training session for referees, referee classification exam, and the accreditation of African coaches in the disciplines of Kata and Kumite.