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Boxer Gicharu to get Team Kenya started

NAIROBI, Kenya, June 29- Boxer Benson Gicharu will get Team Kenya London 2012 Olympics charge underway on Monday when he takes to the ring in the men flyweight division round of 32.

The Commonwealth silver medallist Gicharu is the only male boxer in the London 2012 squad and is aiming to fight his way to a medal at his debut at the sporting carnival besides setting the tone for his teammates.

“When you compare Delhi and the Olympics, they are two different events. Olympics feature the best of the best and I’m among the best and everyone is eyeing the gold.

“If I land on any medal, I will be happy but I will put all my effort and give it my best shot,” Mucharu, 27, said before his departure for the Games earlier this month.

Mucharu will take on 18-year-old Egyptian Hesham Abdelaal at the bout set to start at 4:15pm local time in three rounds with the winner on points qualifying for Friday’s round of 16.

The Kenyan stands at 167cm (5’ 6’’) the same as his Egyptian opponent in the 52kg category.

His journey to London saw the Kenya Police corporal who is deployed at Nairobi’s Railways Police Station finish second to Botswana fighter, Oteng Oteng during the May African qualifiers in Algeria.

Initially, Mucharu paid for his own training with the wrangle-hit Kenya Amateur Boxing Association failing in its mandate but the boxer’s fortunes changed for the better when the Olympics committee took him for a two-week training camp in Bristol.

Meanwhile, most of Team Kenya’s medal breadbasket, the distance athletics runners will depart for London on Monday night.

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Lead by team captains, world record holder, David Rudisha and Olympics champion, Pamela Jelimo, the athletes will have among other luggage the aspirations of an entire nation packaged in their travelling bags.

Only the men marathon squad of two-time world champion, Abel Kirui and the past two winners of the London Marathon, titleholder Wilson Kipsang and Emmanuel Mutai as well as the men 5000m team of Isaiah Kiplangat, Edwin Soi and Thomas Longosiwa will remain.

The country expects her first medals from the track and field competition in London on Friday when the women marathon and 10,000m finals are held.

Double world champion, Vivian Cheruyot will be the leading light in the 25-lap race while fellow Daegu winner, Edna Kiplagat is out to spearhead the search for the country’s first ever gold at the ultimate distance race.

Two-time London champion and pre-race favourite, Mary Keitany as well as Daegu silver winner, Priscah Jeptoo will compete alongside Kiplagat while Sally Kipyego and Caroline Chepkirui will partner Cheruiyot.

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