Coach confident of Olympic qualification

National boxing team trainer Gashugi Kananura is confident about Rwanda’s chances of clinching one or more of 30 remaining slots for the Beijing Games.

National boxing team trainer Gashugi Kananura is confident about Rwanda’s chances of clinching one or more of 30 remaining slots for the Beijing Games.

The Rwandan team left Kigali yesterday morning for the second African Olympic qualifier, which runs from today until April 2 in Windhoek, Namibia.

Speaking to Times Sport on Thursday evening soon after securing the boxers’ passport, Gashugi said though the heat is on the boxers, he is confident about their chances of qualifying for the Beijing Games.

"I am confident. If the boys can keep in mind what we have done in the training for the past two weeks, they stand a chance, no doubt about that," the seasoned trainer said.

The team of six, four boxers and two officials flew to Namibia yesterday morning at 10.am local time aboard a Rwandair Express through Johannesburg, South Africa and was expected to land in Windhoek in evening.

However, the team left with out Rwanda’s best hope for qualification for the Beijing Games, Michel Gashumba (Featherweight) who was dropped due to being over-weight.

Gashumba failed to shed off the 4kgs above the normal 57kgs for his weight and was replaced by Claude Gatorano who the coach described as ‘a competent replacement’.

The traveling included; David Nsabimana, Bantam weight (54kg), Claude Gatorano, Featherweight (57kg), Pascal Sibomana, Lightweight (60kg) and Jean Morris Bikorimana, Welterweight (64kg), Gashugi Kananura (coach) and Eugene Ndashikirwa, Rwanda Amateur Boxing Federation Secretary General who traveled as head of delegation.

The national boxing team’s trip to Namibia is financed by the Ministry of Sport and Culture.

Rwanda missed the first qualifier staged in the Algerian capital Algiers in January 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.

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