•The 36-year-old 2008 Beijing Olympian was among the 25 boxers picked after the conclusion of the third leg of the national league in Kongowea, Mombasa
•Okoth, a younger sibling of Kuala Lumpur 98 Commonwealth Games Absalom Okinyi, added that he feels much stronger ahead of the games.
Kenya Defence Forces veteran lightweight Nick Okoth is overly excited to be back in the national team for 2019 All African Games slated for next month in Morocco.
Okoth, the only Olympian in the national team, said he hopes to win gold in the Morocco event which could be his last as he will have attained the maximum age of 40years which is the maximum age to fight in the amateur ranks as stipulated by the world governing body, AIBA competition rules.
The 36-year-old 2008 Beijing Olympian was among the 25 boxers picked after the conclusion of the third leg of the Boxing Federation of Kenya (BFK) national league at Uwanja Wa Mbuzi Joho Stadium in Kongowea, Mombasa. Okoth said he is happy to be back in the team.
“I am hoping to win gold in a bid to improve on the bronze I won at the last All African Games in the Brazzaville, Congo. I hope to make it to the final team and I will be working on my game well in time for the games,” he said.
Okoth, a younger sibling of Kuala Lumpur 98 Commonwealth Games Absalom Okinyi, added that he feels much stronger ahead of the games. He will fight it out with Ethan Maina of Police for a final team slot in the lightweight class.
Okoth’s biggest career achievement is a bronze medal at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Also included in the team is Gold Coast Commonwealth bronze medalist Christine Ongare and Shaffi Bakari of Police, who will be making back-to-back appearances at the games having been members of the team in Brazzaville alongside light-welterweight Victor Odhiambo of KDF.
Ongare became the first woman in the history of Kenyan boxing to win a medal following her fairytale performance in Gold Coast. Bakari has since moved a berth up from light flyweight to flyweight after AIBA reduced men’s slots at the Olympic Games from 10 to 8 and increased women’s divisions from three to five.
Bakari, originally from Mombasa, earned the position after a walkover in the finals and said he is happy to retain the position in the team. He cruised to the semis after seeing off Thomas Kazungu of Siaya.
“I am happy to be back in the team. I will try my best to be in the medal bracket. My new weight (flyweight) allows me to prepare well for the 2020 Olympic Games as light flyweight will not be featuring on the new program,” said Bakari. KDF’s Hezron Maganga and his counterpart Humphrey Ochieng aka Jakababa also made the team and will fight for the final light heavyweight slot.
BFK President urged all boxers to stay in focus ahead of the residential training that will be announced later.
“I know coaches have an uphill task to get the boxers in good shape as we wait for the residential training. I urge all boxers to train hard and ensure they are fit to tackle the games.” Jamal said. Jamal added that officials of the team will be named in due course. “We shall name the team manager and coach for the team in due course,” said Jamal.
The provisional team, currently with sparring partners, will be whittled down to a final team just before the Kenyan contingent departs to Morocco.
Provisional squad: Men—Shaffi Bakari, Abednego Kyalo (49kg), Martin Oduor (56kg), Martin Maina (49kg0, Mohammed Ali (56kg), Dennis Muthama (56kg), Ethan Maina (60kg), Nick Okoth (60kg), Victor Odhiambo (64kg), Boniface Mugunde (69kg), Edwin Okongo (75kg), George Cosby (75kg0, Hezron Maganga (81kg), Humphrey Ochieng (81kg0, Elly Ajowi (91kg) and Fredrick Ramogi (91+); Ladies: Christine Ongare (48kg), Veronica Mbithe (48kg), Alice Waiyego (54kg0, Flavian Auma (51kg), Evelyn Akinyi (64kg), Lorna Kusa (69kg), Elizabeth Andiego (75kg), Elizabeth Akinyi (75kg) amd Lilian Achieng (81kg).