•The boxers, who have been in residential camp since Monday last week, have been working on four specific areas to prepare them for the Dakar showdown.
•The coach revealed they have planned for eight men and five female fighters to represent Kenya in the qualifiers that will be held from February 20 to 28.
Kenya national boxing team ‘Hit Squad’ are in the best shape ever ahead of the African Olympic qualifiers, according to coaches Benjamin Musa and David Munuhe.
The boxers, who have been in residential camp since Monday last week, have been working on four specific areas to prepare them for the Dakar showdown.
“We have been working on punching strategy, defence techniques, movements and effective punching. This will ensure they are ready for anything when they take to the ring in Senegal,” said Musa.
The coach revealed they have planned for eight men and five female fighters to represent Kenya in the qualifiers that will be held from February 20 to 28.
“We would have wished to take more boxers but we only have one opportunity for each weight category.The selection has been a continuous process and we have been forced to look at the statistics of each fighter in every training session. The ones who have been consistent and are physically and mentally ready for the qualifiers will make the team,” said Musa.
Assistant coach David Munuhe observed that the level of discipline and commitment shown by experienced boxers like middleweight Rayton Okwiri, heavyweight Ellyn Ajowi as well as team captains Nick Okoth and Elizabeth Andiego had ensured the other pugilists strictly adhere to the camp rules.
“The experienced boxers have led by example. Other fighters are inspired with the way they carry themselves while in camp and follow their example which makes our work as coaches easier,” said Munuhe.
Meanwhile, National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) secretary general, Francis Mutuku, lauded Boxing Federation Kenya for their contribution towards the success of Kenya at the Olympics and challenged the current crop of fighters to emulate the standards of past heroes.
“Boxing has been the number two sport in bringing medals from the Olympics in the past, behind athletics. This time round with the preparations they have undergone, we are confident they can reclaim the past glory. As NOC-K, we wish them well ahead of the African Olympic qualifiers in Senegal and assure them of our support in what is the first phase of their program and we are looking forward to be with them in Tokyo 2020,” remarked Mutuku while handing over two pair of training gear to the boxers.
Mutuku, who was accompanied by NOCK treasurer Anthony Kariuki and executive member Shoaib Vayani, warned the athletes not to engage in doping as they risked jeopardizing their careers.
“We have the talent so we should always strive to fight clean. Doping issues arise mostly due to lack of knowledge and that is why NOC-K has availed a doctor at the training camp to help in guiding the boxers concerning prohibited substances,”added Mutuku.
Boxing Federation Kenya (BFK) president Anthony Jamal Otieno thanked NOC-Kenya for the support given to the national boxing team and challenged the fighters to repay the faith shown in them by the local Olympic body and earn many qualifications slots to the Tokyo Games.
“On behalf of BFK, I want to commend NOC-K for the support they have given the federation to ensure our boxers go into camp in good time and particularly for organising the residential camp in Nanyuki, where the team trained without any distractions.The boxers have no excuse not to do well in Senegal and I am pretty confident we will have a record number of them in Tokyo,” said the BFK President.
Team Kenya coach Benjamin Musa reiterated the Hit Squad target of taking as many boxers as possible to the Tokyo Games.
Musa said: “The morale in camp has been high since Day One. Everyone has shown the commitment required and as a coach that is all you can ask for. We now wait to name the final team at the end of the week and then hope for good perfomances in Dakar.”
Team captains Elizabeth Andiego and Nick Okoth promised to ensure the fighters are fully focused on achieving their goals.
“We have trained well for the past one month. Now those who will get the opportunity to make the team to Senegal must endeavour to make Kenya proud and ensure as boxers, we fly the Kenyan flag high in Tokyo,” the team captains said.
The Kenyan boxing contingent is expected in Senegal on February 17 ahead of the qualifiers starting on February 20