Kenya Tong-Il Moo-Do Federation president Clarence Mwakio believes successful and consistent hosting of the Mombasa Open International Championships will enhance their bid for the sport to be recognised as an Olympic sport.
Mwakio said this will provide many young talents the world over with the chance to fulfill their potential at the grandest stage and add the world’s most prestigious medals to their collections.
“We want to have this sport competing at the Olympics so we can have as many of our young men and women sharpening their skills and benefitting from its professional aspect. These three events (Martial Arts World Cup, World Tong-Il Moo-Do Championships and Mombasa Open) are integral for us in this strategy,” Mwakio said.
He urged the various national federations to affiliate themselves with their local Olympic committees to aid the World Tong-Il Moo-Do Federation in their pursuit of recognition.
“We want to achieve that within the time frame that has been set by the president of the world federation. With that, I know most countries will add a few more gold medals courtesy of the highest level of competition,” he said.
Turning his attention to the hosts, Team Jasiri, Mwakio is confident home advantage will play a big part in Kenya’s successful defence of the title they won last year at the Aga Khan Multi-Purpose Hall.
“We know that tomorrow (Saturday) will be very competitive as every team wants to win. We urge our fans to come out and support their team. May the best team win. As we say, mcheza kwao hutuzwa,” Mwakio said.
As at Friday afternoon, 124 participants from 16 countries had docked at the portside city, including Japan, Turkey, United States, Zambia, Thailand, Iran, South Korea, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
World Tong-Il Moo Do Federation president Takamistu Hoshiko praised Kenya for their consistency in hosting the global event, which has seen the sport grow in the country.
“We are thankful to the government for the support accorded to this championship. I have been attending them since 2013 and the sport has grown so much thanks to the efforts of Kenya Tong-Il Moo-Do Federation,” Hoshiko said.
“Staging an event of this magnitude under the circumstances occasioned by Covid-19 is the definition of resilience. Over the years, we have seen new faces and talents emerging in the sport and this is really good for its growth.”
Similarly, former Commissioner of Sports Gordon Oluoch urged more countries to enlist for future editions of the Mombasa Open.
“This is the biggest martial arts event held in the country this year. We have over 60 countries worldwide that participate in Tong-Il Moo-Do and I would like to urge many more to join us for the next edition so we can make it bigger and better,” Oluoch said.