Kenya retains Africa Zone Five karate overall title
By Oscar Pilipili
Kenya won the overall title at the just concluded seventh edition of the Africa Zone Five Karate Championship at the Nyayo National Stadium at the weekend.
The national team won six gold medals, seven silver and eleven bronze. Their close rivals Burundi garnered four gold medals, three silver and two bronze as Rwanda took two gold medals, two silver and one bronze.
The Kenyan battle was led by Joyce Juma with her swift kicks and punches and the heavy punching Edwin Gendi in the fight to retain the title they have held since 2007.
Zone Five brings together Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Sudan, Southern Sudan, Burundi and Egypt.
Egypt withdrew at the eleventh hour, while Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania only sent officials to participate in the General Assembly.
The championship was presided over by the Union of African Karate Federation (Ufak) Secretary General Mohamed Paraiso and officiated by African chief karate referee and Judge Akinola Olusegun.
Paraiso said though he was impressed by the standards of the game in the zone, a lot more needs to be done to bring the zone to the same level of North African countries of Egypt, Algeria and Senegal.
"Countries in the north have invested heavily in Karate. Their governments fully sponsor and support the national teams. We hope that the governments of Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania will do the same to uplift the standards of the game in Zone Five. Ufak will continue expanding its grassroots programme in the continent," said Paraiso.
Akinola Olusegun, a London-based Karate expert said that the standard of officiating and coaching in the region needed urgent attention. He urged all coaches to read widely and keep up to date with the rapid changes in sports globally.
The Kenya Karate Federation Chairman Caleb Atemi said although he was impressed with his team’s performance, it needed more exposure. He said that he had hosted the championship without a single sponsor.
"We thank God we succeeded using bare minimal resources. I hope the Government will support the sport by giving an air ticket to Jody Young from South Africa, whose stay with the team bore great results at the Zone Five event," said Atemi.
Golden welcome for youth athletics teamWorld 800m youth record holder Leonard Kirwa Kosencha is still surprised at having set a new mark at the World youth championships in Lille, France last week, but he is now eyeing the senior record.
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