The Kenyan boxing team ’Hit-Squad’ members Boniface Mugunde and Elizabeth Akinyi believe are ready for the forthcoming last round of 2020 Olympic games qualifiers set for June in France.
The two were among 19 ‘hit squad’ pugilists who participated at the Africa Olympics Boxing championship in Senegal in 2020.
Only two boxers , Nick Okoth and Christine Ongare clinched direct tickets to the Tokyo Games. The rest of the members will seek to book their ticket via pre-qualifiers.
Boniface Mugunde, says the recent hiring of strength and conditioning coaches is a big boost to their preparations.
‘’There’s a big improvement in the way we practice. we were not doing power training ,weight lifting and condition before, But we now have a strength and conditioning coach, for instance I used to over train, yet I did not know, the coach gives us a training programme of certain practices and we don’t over do it no longer’’,the welter weight boxer stated.
Mugunde hopes that the training which they did not receive when they went to the African games coupled with the extra time afforded to them following the outbreak of corona virus will show in their performance at the games.
‘’When we went for African qualifiers we never had enough time to train i. e power training, but right now we have had enough time to train and get a knowhow on power training,we feel confident even if the games were today we will be ready for them. The physiotherapist has been able to identify each and everyone’s specific area of training, for instance I had a problem with my shoulder,but since I started undergoing a specific training under his instructions I have improved a great deal’’,Mugunde said.
Elizabeth Akinyi who missed out on a direct ticket to the Olympics after finishing third, just a place outside the automatic qualifying slots, is confident of clinching the Olympic ticket after a near miss at the African games .
‘’I sustained an injury on my shoulder, a ligament slipped and I couldn’t finish the game strongly, In my weight gold and silver winners clinched the automatic places, I won a bronze medal ,I hope that when I go to France I will get the Olympic ticket. I have added my skill to the strength and I could say that right now we are receiving proper training and we are ready for tougher opponents than before’’ ,Akinyi said.
Head coach Benjamin Musa reckoned the incorporation of new aspects of training including the coming in of a nutritionist, a physiotherapist and strength and conditioning coach and the time taken to prepare gives them confidence of doing well at the Paris qualifiers.
‘’The incorporation of the expertise in our training boosts boxers’ mental edge ahead of the qualifiers. The time that we have also had has given us a chance to analyze various boxing cultures from several boxers who will feature at the world qualifiers. We have analyzed and evaluated various boxers so as to prepare tactically and technically’’,Said Musa.
The coach revealed that they are planning to feature in two international invitational tournaments in Mauritius and Philippines in March and May respectively. The Mauritius tournament is expected to features boxers from hosts Mauritius, Kenya, Zambia, Botswana while the Philippines championship will feature pugilists from Philipines, Thailand and Australia
‘’We have spent almost one year without a tournament or fight due to the outbreak of corona virus, in this sport its impossible for one to go to a tournament of such magnitude,the Olympic qualifiers,without a tournament to gauge themselves ’’,Musa added.