The Continental Championships start today, Friday, beginning with all categories of Kata contests and junior individual Kumite (fighting), according to a programme issued by the organizers on Thursday.
Kata is display of a set sequence of moves in a pre-arranged fight against imaginary opponents.
The junior, senior and team Kata elimination contests will be the first contests on day one of the three-day 17th African Seniors Karate Championships and the 9th African Juniors Karate Championships beginning in Kigali on Friday.
This means Rwandan players likely to compete on day one include Kata specialists Victor Shyaka Kaberuka, 17, of Kigali’s Lions Karate-Do Club and Razia Uwase, 20, from Rubavu’s Zen Karate-Do Club.
In Kumite, Jovia Umunezero, 17, and Halifa Niyitanga, 18, who grabbed medals at last month’s the 3rd African Youth Games in Algeria, are some of those likely to feature on day one.
By press time yesterday, it was not yet known who the Rwandans would be competing against.
Nonetheless, there was a cheerful mood in the camp on Thursday as players and the coaching team led by Egyptian expert current head coach, Egyptian expert Hashim Mahmoud Mohamed Hashim, held a final meeting to plan for Friday events.
Hashim told Times Sport that: “As I have emphasised before, the players have good spirit and are focused on the championships. I only hope they will win medals. And now, I only ask God to help us get good results.
Team Captain Vanilly Ngarambe, 25, echoed his coach’s views saying: “We are ready. We gave our all during training and will give our all on the tatami [the fighting mat] during the tournament”.
It is the first time Rwanda – or any country in the region – is hosting a Karate tournament of this magnitude. The African Seniors Karate Championships and African Juniors Karate Championships is the biggest and most glamorous karate event on the continent.
Up to 25 countries are represented in the tournament.