The local boxing fraternity has expressed mixed reactions about the recent performance of the boxing team at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games with most pundits citing falling standards as the main reason for poor performance.
This follows a poor showing by boxers who represented Botswana at the games that just ended in sporting showpiece Australia last week.
Under the guidance of one the most decorated coaches Lechedzani Luza, team Botswana made up of Mohammed Otukile, Lethabo Modukanele, Keamogetse Kenosi and Aratwa Kasemang failed to bring any medal home as all the boxers lost their fights at the tournament.
While all of the local boxers did not fight in the preliminaries due to lack of opponents, the expectation was that they would impress since they entered the competition at the quarterfinal stage, just one step shy of podium positions. However, all the boxers were knocked out at their first attempt which left many shocked many as Botswana boxers, historically have done well at the Commonwealth stage.
Otukile, who was a medal prospect looking at his experience in the ring, lost to Brendan Irvine of Northern Ireland 4-1 in the 52 kg quarterfinal bout in which many experts in shock that Otukile was far much better than his opponent in the ring. In another fight Kasemang who was also deemed a senior member of the team was knocked out on 5-0 by New Zealand’s Troy Garton in the 60kg bout while Kenosi lost Michaela Wlash in the 57kg bout. Modukanele was the last casualty, losing 5-0 to a New Zealand opponent.
Veteran boxer and Coach Thuso Khubamang believes lack of experience cost the team dearly. “To me, the team comprised of mostly youngsters who still lack a lot of experience in the international arena which made it difficult because Commonwealth is very big stage, very similar to the world championships and Olympics. But I do believe it has also worked for the team, they have learnt their lessons and at the next international competition, they will be ready and sharp. However, lack of support is also killing boxing, so that’s one of the things that bring down our sport. Affiliates and previous committees should all rally behind the current leadership and guide them where possible for the betterment of the sport,”
For Oteng Oteng who also fought at the Commonwealth Games in 2010, the performance of the team was above par according to him. “I can just say they did their best and fought like champions and lost with dignity. What is left is just to come back and correct the mistakes they did out there and try to improve where there is need, even though most of them are inexperienced, especially the ladies. To me, our opponents were just fine it’s just that our boxers need exposure to get that experience on how to tackle different types of boxers,”
Global Sport caught up with Botswana Boxing Association mouthpiece Taolo Tlouetsile concerning the performance and had to say this, “we are yet to see the report from those who travelled with the team. I can be in a good position to address some of the issues after getting the report but from what we saw from the performance we are still positive that we can get a medal at the 2020 Olympics. All our boxers made it to the quarterfinals but we hoped for a better display or position,” said Tlouetsile.
The last time boxing brought a medal from the Commonwealth games was way back in 2010 in New Delhi, India courtesy of Oteng Oteng and Tirafalo Seoko. The two won bronze and silver medals, respectively.