Lech­aba’s star keeps rising in the ring

Teen karateka sur­passes ex­pec­ta­tions

Sowetan - - Dipapadi - By Daniel Mothowa­gae

At 13, Masech­aba Lech­aba has achieved more than what some bat­tle-scarred ath­letes can only dream of.

The karateka from Diep­kloof, Soweto, has es­tab­lished her­self as a dominant force in the mar­tial arts.

Dis­cov­ered by coach Thabo Mol­ubi eight years ago, the two have forged a pow­er­ful part­ner­ship that has racked up count­less ti­tles across the re­gional, pro­vin­cial and na­tional lev­els.

Their fight­ing style is called shito-ryu, which orig­i­nates from some of the Ja­panese’s in­dige­nous fight­ing meth­ods.

In fact, Lech­aba, a Grade 8 pupil, is the first fe­male from Soweto to be awarded na­tional colours, ac­cord­ing to Mol­ubi.

She has been drafted into Team SA to the Zone 6 re­gional cham­pi­onships that runs in Botswana next week­end but Lech­aba will first slug it out in the Arnold Clas­sic Cham­pi­onships in Sandton, Jo­han­nes­burg, from to­day until Sun­day.

Mol­ubi, 37, runs a karate club in Diep­kloof and this is how he was able to at­tract tal­ent and groom the likes of Lech­aba into a po­ten­tial su­per­star.

“She started with me when she was five,” re­called Mol­ubi, who holds a black belt, which rep­re­sents a high rank­ing in the mar­tial arts.

“That’s how the jour­ney started and we never looked back since she com­peted in her first tour­na­ment, a world cham­pi­onships in Dur­ban in 2013. She came sec­ond. She has en­tered many other ma­jor events in the re­gion, pro­vin­cial and na­tional com­pe­ti­tions.”

Mol­ubi cited lack of spon­sor­ship as the only down­side, although he cred­ited a few in­di­vid­u­als who have kept their club go­ing, mainly donors such as lo­cal busi­ness peo­ple in Diep­kloof.

“A com­pany called Re­sul­tant Fi­nance, which is based in Midrand, has come on board to spon­sor Masech­aba just in time for her trip to Botswana,” said Mol­ubi.

Now ranked as an elite ath­lete, Lech­aba has been con­test­ing the na­tion­als for the past three years and she has lost count of her medal col­lec­tion.

She and Mol­ubi are geared up for the Arnold Clas­sic where they will face off against other elite ath­letes from SA.

/VELI NH­LAPO

Coach Thabo Mol­ubi and Masech­aba Lech­aba, 13, the first fe­male in Soweto to be awarded SA colours in karate, are a for­mi­da­ble part­ner­ship.

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