Boxing Boxing

Okwiri leads ‘Hit Squad’ charge for qualifiers

Rayton Okwiri jab Patrick Amoti in their bout. Photo/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14 – Olympians Rayton Okwiri and Elizabeth Andiego headline Kenya’s boxing team ‘Hit Squad’ that will do duty at the Africa Olympic Games Qualifier set to be hosted in Dakar, Senegal from February 20-28.

The squad that has been in boot camp in Nanyuki comprises of eight men and five women boxers who will fight for the Olympics slot available.

Okwiri, who represented Kenya at the last Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will be seeking to return to the Multi-Sport event when he will compete in the middleweight category.

The other men in the squad are Africa Games silver medallist Shaffy Bakari (Flyweight), Africa Games bronze medallist Nick Okoth (Featherweight) who will captain the team, Elly Ajowi (Heavyweight), Joseph Shigalo (Lightweight), Boniface Mugunde (Welterweight), Humphrey Ochieng (Light Heavyweight) and Fredrick Ramogi (Super Heavyweight).

One of National Boxing team captain Elizabeth Andiego in training. Photo/COURTESY

Andiego, who was in the 2012 London Olympic Games leads the corresponding women’s squad that has also Christine Ongare (Flyweight), Beatrice Akoth (Featherweight), Evelyne Akinyi (Lightweight) and Elizabeth Akinyi (Welterweight).

Okwiri, the Africa Boxing Union (ABU) middleweight title champion, said he is going for nothing less but a ticket to Olympics, something that made him come from professional boxing to fight in the prestigious Summer Games.

“I am comfortable that I will come back with gold and ticked to Olympics. I have energy I am fully fit and waiting for the game. The camp has helped us focus on the goal and I can say we are 100 percent,” Okwiri said after being named in the team on Friday.

He added; “This time if I go to Olympics, I go there and win a medal, last time there was corruption from judges and good thing is that they are not there this time. We have teamwork, young boxers have morale, everyone is focused so we are working on speed.”

Kenyan Boxer Hassan Shaffi Bakari won silver at the 2019 Africa Games. Photo/COURTESY

On his part, Bakari who had a good run at the Africa Games in Morocco last year, is aiming to go one better.

“I have had good preparations led by our coaches, now even if the game is tomorrow everyone is ready, I have high hopes as I do always before a game. I have faith I will qualify with gold,” Bakari stated.

Andiego, the first Kenyan woman Olympian said she has gained a lot of confidence, coming to the scene after being involved in an accident way back in 2015.

The league dubbed Road to Tokyo will be used to select team Kenya’s provisional squad for the 2020 Olympics. Photo/COURTESY

“We have had an ample training since we started at Mathare Deport to residential camp in Nanyuki. This is the best preparations that we have ever had. Coaches are reminding us the techniques that we have forgotten,” Andiego, who was at the 2019 Africa Games said.

“I believe we will qualify for Olympics, just like the men, we will give our best. Since 2012 we have had growth in women boxing, now we have five weights in 2012 there were only three, since 2015 I have worked hard, and I’m now focused to bag the ticket in Senegal. We will give our best,” she added.

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