NAIROBI (Xinhua) — Kenya’s boxing team hopes to end their 14-year jinx and win their first gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April.
The 2010 Commonwealth silver medalist Benson Gicharu said the country has potential, and only needs a little bit more in training and skills to make their mark at the Commonwealth Games.
The Commonwealth Games is only open to athletes from former British colonies or members of the Commonwealth of Nations. A total of 72 countries and regions will be in action in Australia’s Gold Coast from April 4-15.
“There is potential in Kenya’s boxing. The league standards have improved and we have qualified coaches. There is a hunger to excel from the boxers. I believe we will have our answers at Gold Coast,” said Gicharu.
Kenya will enter seven boxers in the Commonwealth Games. The team has embarked on a serious training regimen and will send a team of 24 boxers to the India Open Boxing tournament on Jan 28.
Kenya’s boxing head coach Patrick Maina said the tournament is critical for their preparation, as they will be able to test their skills and gauge their potential before heading to camp.
“This tournament is really important. Our boxers will fight in a real competition and we will see areas that need to be worked on,” Maina told Xinhua on Friday in Nairobi.
The 24-member team – 20 men and 4 women- pitched camp in Nairobi for training.
All four women are guaranteed slots for the three-day inaugural tournament that will be held in the Indian capital New Delhi. The other ten places will be filled by a selected group of men.
“We are grateful for this chance because it’s a good platform for my boxers to get the exposure they yearn for and let them test their strengths and flaws before April,” Maina said
Maina has identified Gicharu, Nick Okoth (bronze medalist), Nickson Abaka and Shaffy Bakari as heavy favorites to win medals for Kenya at the Gold Coast.
Boxing Association of Kenya President John Kameta, said there will be more exposure for the team.
“From India, we will go straight to a residential training camp and in March, the team will head to Mauritius for more training that will also involve facing other boxers from other countries. After that they will be ready for the games,” Kameta said.
Kameta urged local fans to rally behind the team as they seek a better outing in Australia, having bagged just one medal at the previous edition in Scotland.
In Glasgow in 2014, Kenya won only one bronze medal from 12 boxers while in New Delhi (2010) and Melbourne (2006), the country won three bronze medals. Kenya’s last gold medal in boxing was in 1994.