The Botswana National Boxing coach, Khumiso Ikgopoleng, is optimistic his team will make it past the Africa Olympic qualifiers and book themselves a ticket to the 2012 London Olympics. The team leaves the country tomorrow (Monday) for their final training and acclimatisation camp in Tunisia ahead of the Africa Olympic Qualifiers.
The team is expected to stay in Tunisia for a week before crossing the border into Morocco where the Africa
Olympic qualifiers will be held starting from the 27th of this month. Speaking in an interview, Ikgopoleng said all is well in the team camp and he expects his charges to competitively compete during the qualifiers, which will give African boxers the last opportunity to make it to the Olympics. The team has been in camp since the earlier part of this year and have just returned from two training camps in Mauritius and France last week Friday.
Ikgopoleng says the Morocco bound team will consist of six boxers, 5 national team boxers and one (1) developmental boxer. The five boxers are Bathusi Mogajane, Mmoloki Nogeng, Tefo Letshikgwane, Oteng Oteng and Gomotsang Gaasite while Oratile Kgalaeng makes the team as a developmental boxer.
Speaking on his team’s preparations for the do or die last chance qualifiers, Ikgopoleng, who himself is a former Olympic boxer, says he is happy with the preparations.
“Everything has gone according to how we planned and I believe the boys are ready, both physically and mentally. The camps that we have had in Mauritius and France were worth it and they have given us a chance to see how the boys can perform against boxers from America, North Africa, Asia and Europe,” Ikgopoleng said.
The coach says he was in particular impressed with the France camp which he says was well organised and provided them with an opportunity to see how the boys can adapt against various boxers.
“In France, we had the opportunity to test ourselves against boxers from Great Britain, France, Venezuela, Sweden and Spain. These are great boxing countries and we were impressed with how the boys adapted. It was difficult at first but with time, they adapted well and there was a lot of improvement,” Ikgopoleng added.
He says so far, he has noticed much improvement and maturity in his charges, something which he says impressed even the countries they came up against while in France. The national boxing team mentor says he was also happy that his team got to fight French boxers, who he says have a similar fighting style to the North Africans, something which he believes will augur well for the team as it heads to North Africa for the Olympic qualifiers.
Going into the championships, Ikgopoleng says their target is to get more than two qualifying slots; something which he believes is possible. He says having been with the team for a while now as a coach, they have been working hard to address their weaknesses and have almost achieved this.
“There will always be weaknesses and even though we have worked hard to eliminate them, there still are some. We are, however, happy with what we have achieved,” he concluded.
The team will be expected back home after the qualifiers on the 6th of May.