Is working hard and punching its way to Budapest to ensure the flop is knocked out flat before the African Olympic qualifiers next month
There was disappointment and sorrow within Botswana’s boxing world when the nation failed to qualify any pugilist for Rio Olympics in 2016.
This was fueled by the fact that the country had always participated in the Olympics since 1988. Something of that frustration remains to-date and prompting the Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) to ensure that such a flop never happens again. To that end, spokesman Taolo Tlouetsile says local boxers have been in intense preparations for Africa Boxing Olympic Qualification tournament since last year.
The tournament is scheduled for Dakar, Senegal from February 20 to 29. “The boxers have been with the same technical team since we began the preparations,” Tlouetsile told Gazette Sport. “They trained in countries like Thailand and France in 2019 and thereafter went on to perform well at the 2019 African Games.”The team’s head coach, the ever-victorious Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza, says he is happy with the support that BoBA has extended to the team for the build-up to the Olympic qualifiers that began last year. Luza disclosed that the team would leave for Paris, France on the 25th of this month to train further and thereafter leave for Budapest, Hungary to participate in the Bocskai István Memorial International Boxing tournament that is scheduled for 2 to 7 February.
“We might also consider continuing with our preparations in Hungary after the tournament,” he said. “We choose France and Hungary for preparations because the two countries have quality boxers who have won many international accolades.”
Qualification for the boxing events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is determined by continental Olympic qualifying tournaments in which 50 qualification places are up for grabs for men and 27 for women in Africa. Luza is confident that some of his boxers will make the cut.
The Olympic Games, which are billed for Tokyo, Japan beginning July, will feature 186 men and 100 women boxers (compared to 250 men and 36 women in Rio 2016) with the number of women’s weight classes rising from three to five.
Meanwhile, after BoBA missed the previous edition of the Olympics, Oteng Oteng remains the last boxer to have donned Botswana colours at the games at the 2012 London Olympics.