Botswana’s senior boxing national team coach, Khumiso Ikgopoleng, is relishing the challenge as he leads the country towards the London Olympics due next year.
While most of his age mates are still active and dream of maybe winning medals at the Olympics, the 32-year-old former national team boxer now dreams of taking most of his charges to the Olympics and probably having one of them win a medal.
“I have been there (the Olympics) and I went out in the quarterfinals. I therefore feel I did not achieve according to my potential and therefore I want to help some of these boxers to go a step better than me and get a medal,” Ikgopoleng said in an interview.
While relishing the challenge, the newly appointed coach is under no illusion as to the big challenge that lies ahead. Despite his tender age, Ikgopoleng believes his experience and qualifications put him in a good position to oversee a successful transition of Botswana national team to be a success in the international arena.
“I would like to urge people not to expect an overnight success. It is going to be tough but I believe we can make it,” Ikgopoleng added.
The former national team boxer says despite his young age, he has what it takes to be the catalyst that can change the fortunes of the senior boxing national team.
“It is all about knowing what you want and going there to get it. I don’t undermine myself and have a belief that I am capable,” the former boxer said.
With only a few months left before the London 2012 Olympics, Ikgopoleng’s preparations journey starts at the end of this month when he is expected to make his maiden appearance as a coach in an official tournament during the Zone IV championships that are billed for Namibia. After leading his charges to a resounding victory over South Africa in friendly matches this past month, Ikgopoleng will now be looking at taking his charges to a win in Southern Africa.
“When preparing for the match against South Africa, we only had one week in camp and we still performed well. Going into the Zone IV championships, we have already had two weeks’ camp and have had time to work with the team as individuals and as a collective. I believe we have a chance of doing very well in the tournament,” the 32 year old added. Since his induction into the helm of boxing, the senior boxing national team mentor has overseen the introduction of higher weight categories in the national team. He says this was done in the belief that it was high time the country included all weight categories in the national team. While convinced that the country has very talented boxers, Ikgopoleng is of the opinion that there is need to improve the tactical awareness of local boxers so that they can compete with boxers of all styles.
“They must know how to fight with brawlers, orthodox as well as south paws. They must also know how to fight with people who have speed,” Ikgopoleng added.
In his bid to win the Zone IV championships, Ikgopoleng will pin his hopes on nine of Botswana’s best boxers, namely Bathusi Mogajane, Oteng Oteng, Tirafalo Seoko, Mmoloki Nogeng, Gomotsang Gaasite, Keoagile Rantutu, Kenny Maragana, Moabi Mothiba and Zibani Chikanda.