Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) is pinning its hopes of getting gifted pugilist Mohammed Rajab Otukile on the plane to Tokyo on a newly restructured qualification pathway.
This follows the cancellation of the World qualifiers and the restructuring of the qualification pathway by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Boxing Task Force (BTF).
After being disqualified at the Africa continental qualifiers held in Senegal, Otukile’s last chance was expected to come at the World qualifiers.
However, this past month, the IOC BTF announced that the world qualifiers had been cancelled to give way for the European and American continental qualifiers. The event been rescheduled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic disruptions.
The cancellation of the world qualifiers means there will still be 53 vacant Olympic slots for boxing at yet to be filled when the continental qualifiers come to an end in June.
As a measure to fill up the remaining slots, the IOC BTF announced on the 15th of February last month that ‘the 53 quota places (32 men and 21 women) planned to be allocated at the final World Olympic Qualifier will now be allocated equally across the four regions (Africa, Americas, Asia/Oceania and Europe) and all the weight categories.’
‘Following the fundamental principle of universality, one nominal quota (by name) will be allocated to the best ranked athlete not yet qualified per region and per weight category, as per the BTF rankings upon the conclusion of each respective continental event,’ the IOC BTF wrote.
While BoBA is cagey on the matter, early signs from the BTF rankings indicate that Otukile is in line to receive a ticket to Tokyo as ‘the best ranked athlete not yet qualified per region and per weight category’ in Africa.
Under the current BTF rankings, the local pugilist sits on position 3 in the continent on the 52kg category. The two in front of him, Mohamed Flissi of Algeria and Patrick Chinyemba of Zambia have already qualified.
The qualification of the duo leaves Otukile as ‘the best ranked athlete not yet qualified in Africa and per the 52kg weight category.’
When reached for comment, BoBA public relations officer (PRO) Taolo Tlouetsile was reluctant to confirm whether or not the local lad will make the cut.
“It is still a long way to be decided,” Tlouetsile says. “the final list of those who qualify will be made available at the end of the last continental qualifiers,” he adds.
Regarding Otukile’s chances, the BoBA PRO says if the rankings stay as they are, the local pugilist will surely be on the plane to Tokyo.
“But as I say, at this moment, it is still a roll of a dice. Until it is confirmed, we cannot confirm but we are holding firmly to hope that he will make the cut,” he says.
Should Otukile qualify, he will join Keamogetse Kenosi as Botswana boxing’s representative at the Tokyo Olympics.
Currently, Kenosi is the only boxer amid four track athletes from Botswana to have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.