-To prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Pheto Segatlhe

The National Botswana Boxing team departed this week on Wednesday for a preparatory camp in Russia ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics due in two weeks. The team made up of two pugilists Keamogetse Kenosi and Rajab Mahommed is accompanied by assistant coach, Chonga Ntoti and Boago Lentshaletse as their physical trainer. Head coach Lechedzani Master Luza and manager Gilbert Khunwane will join the team later in Japan.

In a live streamed interview before their departure, Ntoti indicated that the training camp is intended to prepare teams for the Olympic Games adding that they would have an opportunity to test players’ preparedness against other countries that are also in Russia for training camps. “Due to Covid-19, we have not had games with other countries as we would have liked, so this is our last opportunity to do that before the tournament,” he added.

The assistant coach explained that even though their preparations had been affected by Covid-19, he was happy with the team’s progress noting that a training camp they had with Zambia assisted a lot. He indicated that they were prepared to do their best at the Olympics and urged the nation to rally behind the team.

Regarding players partaking in the Olympics for the first time, he said the players should not be intimidated because they had competed in big tournaments including All Africa and the Commonwealth Games. “They are going to face some of the boxers, whom they fought before,” he added.

Botswana Boxing Association (BBA) public relations officer, Taolo Tlouetsile highlighted that the training camp was organised by International Boxing Federation. He said after realizing that African and American countries were not able to fully prepare their teams because of movement restrictions, the mother body saw it obligatory to have an international training camp.

“The boxing international body realised that the level of competition was going to be low at the Olympic Games hence the need for international training camp, countries were requested to show interest and we did,” he added.

Tlouetsile indicated that they had to make a choice between taking the team to Tokyo well in time for acclimatization and attending training camp. “We then realized that physical fitness and preparedness in general was more important than acclimatization, but the team would have a few days before the games to get used to the weather,” he said.

Considering their target at the Olympics, he said they just wanted their boxers to perform well. “We would be happy to get medals but if our players perform well even without medals we would be happy,” he said. The camp will end on July 17 and following which the team would join Team Botswana in Japan on July 18.