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Okoth, Andiego in fight for final olympic tickets

By Amos Abuga
Wednesday, January 29th, 2020
Boxer Nick Okoth in action during a past local event. Photo/PD/DAVID NDOLO

Boxers Nick Okoth, who represented Kenya at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and Elizabeth Andiego, who debuted at the 2012 London Games, both have a dream of punching at the 2020 edition in Tokyo, probably for the last time-ever.

Okoth (featherweight) and Andiego (middleweight), are both aware age is catching up with them, and with the games not happening each year, the July 24 to August 9 in Tokyo, Japan might be their last shot.

Okoth, Kenya captain to the 2019 African Games in Morocco, says he will give his best from the African qualifiers next month for the all-important opportunity.

“I was close to qualifying in 2016. I know what it means when you’re only a punch away. I need to make amends.

I know I am not getting any younger. Taking my chances will be key to achieving my dreams,” said the pugilist, who is the oldest in the Hit Squad.

As for Andiego, missing the Rio Olympics was not her making entirely since she was still recovering from a road accident that left her with a broken leg months before the qualifiers.

The accident robbed her what could have been her peek appearance at the Games.

She likens the qualifiers to a do-or-die scenario which she need to capitalise on.

“I have enough experience to try and make it to Tokyo. It will be inspirational to return to the games after eight years.

That no female boxer has qualified for the Olympics since I did doesn’t speak well of us. We all have an obligation to do better,” said Andiego.

“Unlike before, I can happily say boxers are getting more support especially from our federation and its leadership. Such was unheard of before,” added the boxer.

The two boxers are among the squad of 26 (17 men and nine women) who are shaping up for the Africa qualifiers slated for February 20-29 at the International Expo Centre, in Dakar, Senegal.

The team has been training at the Kenya Police Service Mathare Depot, Nairobi under the watchful eye of head coach Musa Benjamin.

A final team of eight men and five women will be named before the end of this month for a two-week residential training camp in Nanyuki before departing on February 17 to Dakar.

Kenya was represented by three boxers at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Peter Mungai (light flyweight), Benson Gicharu (bantamweight) and Rayton Okwiri (welterweight).