Kenya’s Nick Okoth qualifies for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Hit Squad captain Nick Okoth became the first Kenyan boxer to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after sailing to the final of his featherweight category after beating Uganda’s Isaac Masembe in the semi-finals.

Okoth, nicknamed ‘Commander’ won on a unanimous decision to qualify for the Olympics, making a return to the games after 12 years. The 37-year old’s last appearance was in Beijing 2008.

The Kenyan captain commanded the first two rounds to set himself up nicely. He earned 10 points from all the judges in the first round against all nine for the Ugandan. In the second round, four judges lifted a 10 on him with the fifth scoring nine.

He faltered and lost a bit of pace in his footwork in the final round allowing the Ugandan to trade some dangerous jabs. All the five judges carded him nine while the Ugandan had 10 points, but it wasn’t enough to turn victory away from his eyes.

His victory came as the final piece of joy for the Kenyans after the opening three prospects all failed to progress to the final. They will now have to contest the play-off for third place which will be enough to hand them a ticket to Tokyo.

Christine Ongare had seen her hope reduced after losing to tournament third seed Rabab Cheddar from Morocco while Elizabeth Akinyi also saw her semi-final bout end in defeat against Moroccan Bel Ahbib Oumayma in the welter category.

In the men’s heavyweight division, Elly Ajowi could not withstand the heavy punches from Morocco’s Younes Baala as he also lost on a unanimous decision.

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