Rwanda’s best hope for qualification to the Beijing Olympics , Michel Gashumba (Featherweight) has been dropped from the team that is traveling for the second African Olympic boxing qualifiers scheduled for March 22 to April 2 in Windhoek and was replaced by Claude Gatorano.
National team trainer Gashugi Kananura explained Gashumba’s late omission from the team and said it was due to his being over-weight.
“There is nothing we could to make him shed off the 4kgs above the normal 57kg for his weight (Featherweight). Luckily, Gatorano is a capable replacement.
He noted, “We had two boxers who were several kilos above their weight but one of them (David Nsabimana, 54kg) managed to cut off the excess 3.5kg”.
The traveling party include; David Nsabimana, Bantam weight (54kg), Claude Gatorano, Featherweight (57kg), Pascal Sibomana, Lightweight (60kg) and Jean Morris Bikorimana, Welterweight (64kg). The national boxing team departs for Namibia on Friday.
The six-man team that includes four boxers and two officials leaves Kigali International Airport at midday aboard a Rwandair flight. Others on the team are Gashugi Kananura (coach) and Eugene Ndashikirwa (Rwanda Amateur Boxing Federation Secretary General) who’s traveling as head of delegation.
About his team’s readiness for probably their biggest challenge of their respective careers, Gashugi said, “Everyone on the team is thoroughly prepared and I’m quite confident about our chances of clinching one or two or even three remaining slots up for grabs”.
The national boxing team’s trip to Namibia has been fully sponsored by the Ministry of Sport and Culture. Rwanda missed the first qualifier staged in the Algerian capital Algiers earlier in the year because of inadequate preparations, which was caused by lack of funding from the National Olympics Committee.
Africa zone is allocated 60 slots for this year’s Olympic Games but Rwanda, that missed the first qualifier, will be hoping to clinch one or more of the remaining 30 (slots).
No Rwandan boxer has ever qualified for the Olympic Games but Gashugi believes the current team could break that jinx by making it to the next Games scheduled for August 8-24 in the Chinese city of Beijing.
Meanwhile, Gashuji has said that although preparations have been lacking, his boys are ready to ramble in Namibia.
“We are going to use all the ability we have and make sure we get someone to qualify for the Olympics,” Gashuji said, then added, “Remember we aren’t going on a tour, we’re going there to compete.”
The coach added, “Every country is going (to Namibia) looking for qualification, that means, it’s going tough out there but we’re shall give it the best short possible”.
The team has not had the best preparation for such an important competition due to a number of reasons, the major one being finance.
However, is convinced his boys are determined to prove their critics wrong by defying odd and qualify for the Beijing Olympics, despite not having proper preparations. “Because of the little time we’ve had to prepare, we have been concentrating more on light training lately than endurance.
“Besides, we’ve not been to play any build-up fights to gauge the boys, nonetheless, I’m quite confident in their ability to do well in Namibia,” noted the veteran trainer.