Rajab Mahommed Otukile has joined Sadie Kenosi as Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA)’s Tokyo Olympics bound athletes.
The athlete got his ticket courtesy of the ongoing Inetrnational Olympics Committee (IOC) Boxing Task Force (BTF) ranking system.
After the boxing world qualifiers were cancelled, BTF decided to have the highest ranked athletes per continent per category qualify for the remaining boxing slots at the Olympics.
Otukile, who is ranked number 3 in Africa in his weight category, benefited from the criteria as the two boxers ranked ahead of him had already qualified, leaving him as the highest ranked 52kg boxer in the continent to have not qualified.
According to the Association’s public relations officer (PRO) Taolo Tlouetsile, they are happy and proud of the athlete.
“As an association we are happy. It shows how much effort we have put together as an association,” he declares.
“As an executive committee we have to appreciate and thank BoBA structures, parents and all volunteers for their hard work and determination. You will also note that this year marks the end of our 4-year term as an exco,” says Tlouetsile.
When asked of preparations for the athlete, Tlouetsile says they are working around the clock to get the athlete ready for the Olympics.
“The team has been on camp since November and the athlete has been part of the team,” he says.
The BoBA spokesperson however says like all sporting codes, COVID-19 has affected their preparations due to travel restrictions and quarantine regulations.
“We still hope to send the team or only those who have qualified to international camp,” he adds.
Tlouetsile says as an association, BoBA were desperate to qualify athletes for the Olympics after failing to qualify any for the previous games.
“Our target was to qualify for the Olympics. We failed to qualify to Rio Olympics, so it was not easy to set any other target beside qualifying,” he says.
On the challenges they face as the games get nearer, Tlouetsile says ‘the challenges are mostly financial constraints and covid 19 related matters.’
“Financial ones are that our interclub tournaments do not have a sponsor which means club dig deeper in their pockets to attend tournaments,” he says.
“National team preparations are usually limited due to shoe string budget. Development structures suffer because we rely mostly on school sports tournaments,” Tlouetsile explains.
“COVID-19 is also trouble, due to international travel restrictions, suspension of sports activities locally, quarantine regulations in different countries,” he says.
Despite the challenges, Tlouetsile says they are hopeful that the team will do well at the Olympics.
“The team is coached by Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza, assisted by Choga Ntoti n Oteng Oteng who both happen to be former Olympians,” he concludes.
Otukile’s qualification means Botswana has qualified six athletes for the Tokyo Olympics, two from boxing and four from athletics.