NAIROBI, Kenya, May 7- National Olympic Committee Kenya chair, Kipchoge Keino avers supremacy wrangles in the Amateur Boxing Association (ABA) contributed to the country qualifying only one pugilist to the London Olympics.
Commonwealth silver medallist, Ben Gicharu will be the only flag bearer for the nation after coming through as a losing finalist in the flyweight division at the Africa qualifiers that concluded in Algiers, Algeria over the weekend.
Speaking to Capital Sport, Keino added there was need to invest more in modern training techniques for the country to claim a second Olympics gold medal at the discipline following the success of the late Robert Wangila Napunyi at the 1988 Games in Seoul.
“We had plans to bring in a coach from Cuba to assist our local trainers with knowledge on the latest ways of approaching the sport but it was too expensive for us that we had to put it on hold,” the national Olympics chief and IOC Committee Member disclosed.
He added that a second option to send Kenyan coaches to the island nation did not also materialise owing to lack of funds but it was still a priority for his committee for future editions of the Games.
However, he was of the view that the management tussles in the federation may have resulted to the dismal display at the qualifiers where only one of the ten pugilists sealed their London tickets.
“We need to iron out these differences that arise in our federations like those that happened during crucial qualification process in boxing when they ought to have been working as a unit,” stressed Keino.
The feud centres on ABA chairman, William Kameta and his rival, Samson Mugacha of the Nairobi branch of the federation over the control of the local boxing body that intensified in the run-up to the African qualifiers that saw boxers from the capital skip Kenya’s selection events held in Nakuru in February.
Gicharu, the Kenya Police boxer, lost the qualifiers final to Botswana’s Oteng Oteng 16-5 having booked his ticket by stopping Ghanaian Micah Akueteh 17-14 in the semis. It was the first meeting between the pair since the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games where the Kenyan out-scored Oteng 5-4 in the semis of the flyweight division.
Other notable performers from the country that sent five to the Beijing Games at the Algiers qualifiers were Daniel Shisia who bowed out 11-10 to Maxwell Amposah of Ghana in the heavyweight semis while Charles Okoth lost 11- 9 Morocco’s Unathi Mohammed in the superheavy class at the same stage.
ABA secretary general Isaac Abote said the team did their best only losing through slim margins to their opponents with four making it through to the quarters.
“It’s unfortunate that only one boxer will represent us in London down from the five in Beijing but the standards of the sport in the continent have grown and we have to match up to them going into the future,” Abote said.
Algeria leads the highest number of qualifications this year with six ahead of Egypt with five while Cameroon and Ghana have four each.
Kenya had entered ten pugilists at the event that involved 154 boxers from 30 countries contesting for 48 Olympics slots. The Kenyan squad is expected to arrive back in the country on Tuesday.