ONGARE STAYS FOCUSED

Ongare sounds war drums ahead of Tokyo Olympics

The 'Hit Squad' have been punching furiously on the bag at their official training camp in Lavington, Nairobi since mid last year.

In Summary

•In Tokyo, Ongare will seek to replicate her feat at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia where she bagged a bronze, making her the first Kenyan woman to win a Commonwealth Games medal in boxing. It also turned out to Kenya’s only boxing medal at the games.

•The 28-year-old is convinced the five national team coaches led by Benjamin Musa and his deputy Dave Munuhe have sharpened the squad well enough for the robust task ahead.

Flyweight Christine Ongare during the Africa Zone 3 Boxing Championship in Kinshasa DRC.
Flyweight Christine Ongare during the Africa Zone 3 Boxing Championship in Kinshasa DRC.
Image: COURTESY

Kenyan flyweight pugilist Christine Ongare says she is confident of strutting the medal podium at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics set for July.

The 28-year-old is convinced the five national team coaches led by Benjamin Musa and his deputy Dave Munuhe have sharpened the squad well enough for the robust task ahead.

"We've had some good training sessions and there is no doubt in my mind we are now well prepared. The strength and endurance exercises were very challenging because they involved some drills we'd never done before, but I'm happy they've made us stronger than before," said Ongare.

The 'Hit Squad' have been punching the bag furiously during their official training camp in Lavington, Nairobi since mid last year.

The diminutive pugilist will be riding high on the back of a silver medal she clinched during the just concluded Africa Zone 3 Boxing Championship in Kinshasa DRC.

Whereas the Commonwealth bronze medallist had a perfect opportunity to cap off her glittering career with a gold in Kinshasa, she eventually settled for silver after her doctors advised her to throw in the towel without stepping into the ring.

The decision followed a serious injury she had previously sustained when Burundian Havyarimana Ornella elbowed her in the eye during their opening bout.

Ongare is one of the Hit Squad quartet already assured of automatic berths at the Tokyo games, including Nicholas Okoth (featherweight), Elly Ajowi (heavyweight) and Elizabeth Akinyi (welterweight).

The mother of one secured her rights after seeing off Uganda's Catherine Nanziri during the 2020 African Boxing Olympic Qualification tournament held in Dakar, Senegal last February.

She came third in the 51kg division to cement one of the three available Olympic slots.

In Tokyo, Ongare will seek to replicate her feat at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, where she bagged a bronze, making her the first Kenyan woman to win a Commonwealth Games medal in boxing. It also turned out to Kenya’s only boxing medal at the games.

She boasts of a vast wealth of experience, having previously featured at the 2012 AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships, the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Glasgow, Scotland, 2019 Africa Games, Morocco and 2020 African Boxing Olympic Qualification tournament, Dakar, Senegal.

The last born in a family of four, Ongare has since put behind her a disappointing childhood that saw her fall pregnant when she was only 12 years of age.

Her journey in boxing that began in 2011 was a mere coincidence. She actually ended up in the sport as a last resort when efforts to join an acrobatics crew hit a dead end.

She first dabbled in football, tried her hand at acrobatics, before finally finding a permanent abode in boxing where she immersed herself wholly.