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Africa boxing champ Okoth focusing on final Olympic shot in Tokyo

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-05-26 10:44
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NAIROBI - Nick Okoth, winner of the African Boxing Championships, remains hopeful the rescheduled Olympic Games will not come a year too late for him to live his dream to win gold in Tokyo.

The Africa champion will be 38 when the world congregates in Tokyo for the Olympic Games and like old wine, Okoth is hopeful he will get better with age.

He will lead the country's boxing team, which is keen to restore and live up to its nickname as Kenya's Hit Squad.

In reality, Okoth said going to Olympics in 2020 provides a better prospect for him to dominate and win gold.

However, with the competition postponed due to COVID-19, he has no choice but to hold onto his ambitions for another year.

"I know it's a tough call because I will be a year older and maybe slower. However, I am not throwing in the towel. I believe it is a case of mental fight before the actual fight and I want to win that. I will continue to train, sacrifice and push my body through the ceiling. It is one call I have to compete at the Olympics," he added.

Kenya has high hopes of fielding over 100 sportsmen at the Olympics in more diverse disciplines beyond track and field.

Currently, 87 athletes have already secured their ticket to Tokyo, but only two have made it from boxing; namely Okoth and Commonwealth Games flyweight bronze medalist Christine Ongare.

"All sportsmen are feeling the pain for the postponement of the Olympics. I agree, all the measures put in place by the government to keep us safe and healthy are meant for our own well-being," Okoth said.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has ruled that all athletes who had qualified for the Games will retain their berths.

However, there are still several qualifying events that were postponed and they will be rescheduled to allow more athletes to secure their tickets to Tokyo.

In boxing, besides Okoth and Ongare, Kenya will look forward to the world qualification event in Paris, which will give athletes a second chance to qualify and will therefore be open only to those boxers who have not yet qualified for the Games.

The IOC gave out 286 slots for boxers for the Tokyo Games. The number of female boxers has been tripled for Tokyo 2020 in a major boost toward gender equality and in keeping with the increasing quality and popularity of female boxing.

The Tokyo boxing tournament will feature 186 men and 100 women, compared to 250 men and 36 women in Rio.

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