Thato Malunga is the best female karateka Botswana has thus far. Her ambition, enthusiasm and eagerness to learn are likely to position her as one of Africa’s greatest in the sport.
After last weekend’s tournament at UB, the reigning kata and kumite champion, now has her eyes set on competing in the South African Karate Super League, due to start in April.
The 24 year old Serowe born Botho University student, who was on a rampant mood last Saturday when she claimed scalps of all her opponents, says for the time being she will be based in Botswana finishing off the competitions in March before leaving for SA in April to join the league that will span until September. “I have already received an invite from the organizers and the first tournament is on the 26th of April and by then I will be done with the local competitions,’’ the visibly excited karateka said.
The “Majestic Sensei” as she is usually called, says she wants to try her luck in the SA league so that she can grow because the South Africans are taking control of the sport. The last time Botswana met SA was in 2013 in the Zone VI championships in Namibia where they eliminated all our karatekas, “So I think they are better than us as they went on to bring medals in the African Championships, as a result one can learn two or more things from them,’’ the ambitious Malunga said.
Malunga Joined the martial arts in 1999 at SSG karate club under the Botswana Kofukan Federation, and four years later she started competing regionally. Ever-since then, she has dominated Southern Africa and also made her presence felt in the whole continent as she has been ranked third in both Kata and kumite category. However she could have lost the ranking as she has missed a lot of tournaments last year due to administration infightings.
Apart from the regional medals, her repository is bright as she grabbed three medals in the last All Africa Games in Maputo, and is a Commonwealth silver medalist and Kofukan World Championships silver medalist. Her toils have paid off as she has been enrolled in the BNSC Zebra fund initiative. She has been nominated nine times in the BNSC awards but unfortunately, she has always faced strong opponents as Amantle Montsho and Tshotlego Morama have beaten her to walk away with the price, but Malunga is unfazed by all these.
With a much bigger carrot at the SA karate league the local girl is expected to sweat to at least get a respectable position in her maiden season, but all she wants is to “compete with the best for me to be the best’’. Malunga will again be on stage next weekend in Francistown in the second BOKA tournament where she is expecting a fierce competition.
Athletics is one of the sporting activities that for many years has been consistently performing extremely well in international competitions. One of the reasons is the availability of qualified and experienced coaches, who have been working tirelessly on the ground to ensure that they scout talent and develop more athletes.
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