Harrison Kivisu @PeopleSport11
Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) veteran lightweight Nick Okoth is happy to be back in the national team for the 2019 All African Games slated for Morocco.
Okoth, the only surviving Olympian in the 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 40 years which is the maximum age to fight in amateur ranks as stipulated by world governing body, AIBA competition rules.
The 36-year-old Beijing Olympian in 2008 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 and this is what he had to say: “I am hoping to win gold in a bid to improve on the bronze I won in the Brazzaville All African Games. 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 1998 Commonwealth Games Absalom Okinyi, said that he feels much stronger ahead of the game, 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 Games bronze medallist Christine Ongare and Shaffi Bakari of Police who will be making back to back appearances at the games having been a member of the team in Brazzaville and so is light welterweight Victor Odhiambo of KDF.
Ongare became the first woman in Kenyan boxing history 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 eight 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 programme, said Bakari.
Hezron Maganga of KDF and his counterpart Humphrey Ochieng ‘Jakababa’ also made the team and will fight for the final light heavyweight slot.
BFK President Antony Ombok urged all boxers to stay in focused 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.