Local boxers are looking forward to making history at the forthcoming Africa championships tournament that will be held in Madagascar next month. Seven boxers who are already in camp are gearing for the tournament because it will also be used as an Olympic qualifier. Since only gold and silver medal winners automatically qualify, boxers have to triple their efforts if they are to realise their dreams of competing at the world?s second largest showpiece after the soccer World Cup. Botswana has, in the past, been represented by a few boxers at the Olympic Games and maybe this time around things will be different.
Local boxers made their intentions clear in the Zone six games that were held last month in Gaborone. They managed to overcome their traditional hoodoo team, South Africa. The South Africans found themselves chasing the shadows of the local boxers in most of the categories.
One of the rising boxers, Gomotsang Gaasite, told The Sunday Standard, that since they got into camp earlier, he was optimistic most boxers would do the country proud at the games. Gaasite will be participating at the Africa championships for the second time. He first participated at in 2005 where he found the going tough and was knocked out in the quarter finals.
?In 2005, I was new at the Africa championships, so now I know what to expect. It would not be easy but we will try all our level best. You must remember that since we are already in the camp, by the time the Africa championships tournament start most of us will be in good shape. Bear in mind that we also took about a month in preparation for the Zone VI tournament and did extremely well. We defeated some of the boxers that used to give us a torrid time,? he said.
At the 2005 Africa championships tournament, Botswana?s best feat was two bronze medals that were won by Michael Rantsho and Lechedzani ?Master? Luza. If more than two boxers qualify for the Olympics, it would be a great achievement for Botswana and, maybe, one would end up winning a bronze medal.
At the Olympics, Botswana has also never faired any better and they are always eliminated from the word go. Some of the boxers that once represented Botswana at the Olympics include the likes of Healer Modiradilo, France Mabiletsa, Luza and Gilbert Khunwane.
The duo of Luza and Khunwane has since retired and has ventured into coaching. With a wealth of experience they got in international tournaments, they could help the young boxers.
Other boxers in camp include Koolopile Gabaikangwe, Nkabite, and Thato Batshegi.
The national team is under the watchful eye of Cuban coach, Dominquez. He is assisted by locals, Johannes Dithabang and Thebe Setlakgosi, who are also former great boxers.
The Africa Championships start on May 15 until and will run for a week. Meanwhile, the boxing junior team left for Maseru, Lesotho, on Wednesday for regional competitions. The team is under the watchful eye of great boxer, Khumiso Ikgopoleng and Luza. Before the team left, Luza lamented inadequate preparations for the team. He said the team did not spend enough time in camp.
?We are actually not prepared the way we wanted because we only spent a short period of time in camp and I am worried by that. But the guys were responding in training and lets hope they can do something,? he said.
Luza also said sometimes sports is like lotto and they might pull a surprise by winning where the least was expected. Luza is a testimony to this because he triumphed in many tournaments after decrying inadequate training.