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Boxer fails to qualify for the Olympics

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Leemisa Thuseho

LESOTHO’S last-ditch effort to send boxers to the Olympics in July and August this year came to naught after the country’s top ranked boxer Arena Pakela came out fourth in continental rankings.

Pakela was Lesotho’s last hope for Olympics qualification in boxing after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Boxing Task Force (BTF) last month announced that boxing qualifications will be based on boxers’ world and continental rankings.

However, Pakela (75 kg) was ranked fourth on the continent on the list of yet to be qualified boxers in his weight range. Only top-ranked boxers can qualify through the method.

Pakela is currently the highest ranked Lesotho boxer at the continental level in his category.

The new qualifying method was introduced after the cancellation of world qualifying tournament last month on the back of Covid-19-induced travel restrictions.

Lesotho Boxing Association (LeBA) public relations officer Rethabile Mohale told this publication that all the Olympics’ slots on the continent are already occupied and all local boxers have failed to qualify.

He said local boxers had a chance to qualify during the 2019 Africa Games in Rabat, Morocco but they all failed. Following that failure, they were hoping that Pakela’s ranking could earn him a qualification but the recently released rankings put him at position four.

“We failed to qualify for the Olympics… all the slots that were available are already occupied,” Mohale said.

According to Mohale, the only chance Lesotho has will be to send one boxer via the tripartite invitational channel for which they have already applied.

Tripartite invitation places are aimed at offering an opportunity to national Olympic committees, which have small delegations for the Olympics.

If Lesotho’s application for the tripartite place is approved, Mohale said elite boxer Moroke Mokhotho will get first priority for the slot as he is the only boxer currently under the Olympic Solidarity Athletes Scholarship for the next edition of the Olympics.

“We have one boxer, Mokhotho for whom the LNOC has applied for the tripartite invitation place. If the invitation is approved, he will be the only Lesotho boxer to go the Olympics,” Mohale said.

The Tokyo Olympics were supposed to have been held last July and August but were delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

 

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