Ten Paris 2024 Olympic quota places were earned today by seven different countries at the Boxing Road to Paris Africa qualification tournament held at the Dakar Arena in the Senegalese capital.
A total of 18 quota places are available at this event: 2 quotas in each of the 6 women’s events (except for the women’s 75kg category, where only 1 quota place is distributed here), and 1 quota in each of the 7 men’s events. This means that all finalists in the women’s 50kg, 54kg, 57kg, 60kg, and 66kg events are guaranteed a ticket to Paris, while in all other categories, finishing first is the only path to continental level qualification.
Morocco’s Widad Bertal became the first African boxer to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games by defeating Haghighat-Joo Sara (SLE) in the Women’s 54kg category semifinal this afternoon in Dakar. The Moroccan athlete secured a spot in the final, guaranteeing one of the two quota places available in the category here in Dakar. In tomorrow’s final, she will face Egypt’s Yomna Ahmed Rezk Abdalla Ayyad, who secured a Paris 2024 qualification spot by winning 3-1 against Algeria’s Fatma Zohra Abdelkader Hadjala. The Egyptian boxer struggled in round 1 but made a strong comeback in round 2, eventually finishing the match on top as the Algerian athlete received a 1-point deduction.
It was Algeria’s Boualam Roumaysa who secured the first Paris 2024 quota place to be awarded in the women’s 50kg category here in Dakar, as she outdid Nigeria’s Oyesiji Adeola Omowunmi in the evening session, via a unanimous decision, after leading all three rounds. Having achieved her main goal in the tournament, she’s now looking forward to tomorrow’s final match where she’s going up against Morocco’s Yasmine Mouttaki, who stunned Benedicte Diyoka (COD) via a 5-0 win to secure a quota place and a spot in the gold medal match.
Senegal’s Mariatou Diallo, supported here in Dakar by a cheering home crowd, did not make it to the final today. The Senegalese athlete led round 1 of her women’s 57kg category quarterfinal against Tunisia’s Hlimi Ep Moulaahi Khouloud, but was overwhelmed in round 2, when the referee had to stop the contest after counting her twice. Hlimi Ep Moulaahi advanced to the final match, securing the coveted Paris 2024 quota place she was here for. Now, on her way to the highest step of the podium, she will meet Sakobi Matshu Marcelat (COD) who secured a split decision win over Nigeria’s Ojo Nene Joy to claim her spot in the final and at the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
In the women’s 60kg category, Algeria’s Khelif Hadjila won her semifinal bout against Côte d’Ivoire’s Mariam Sidibe by unanimous decision, securing a place in the final and a Paris 2024 qualification berth. Nigeria’s Ogunsemilore Cynthia Temitayo was the second semifinalist to qualify for Paris 2024 today by stunning Zambia’s Nkandu Felistars. The Nigerian athlete initially led in round 1 and then forced the referee to stop the contest in round 2 as she clearly dominated her opponent.
Mozambique’s Dos Santos Alcinda Lucas claimed a unanimous decision victory over Mbabi Tsheusi Brigitte from the Democratic Republic in the women’s 66kg category, booking a ticket to Paris. At tomorrow’s final, as well as at the Games, she will meet Algeria’s Khelif Imane, who beat Cameron’s Mireille Noelle Bindzi Ongbibou by unanimous decision.
Moving on to the women’s 75kg category, Morocco’s reigning African champion Khadija Mardi had to fight hard to advance from her semifinal bout. After leading in rounds 1 and 2, she faced a tough challenge from her opponent, Nigeria’s Mbata Patricia Adanma Epelle. The Nigerian athlete forced Mardi into a standing count in the second half of round 3, but the Moroccan athlete managed to recover and land a couple of convincing blows in the last seconds of the match, eventually winning 4 points to Adanma’s 1.
Mardi will face Kenya’s Andiego Elizabeth Adhiambo in tomorrow’s final, as the Kenyan boxer beat Tunisia’s Ben Mabrouk Molka via a commanding 5-0 decision today. In this weight class, only 1 Paris 2024 Olympic quota place is available at the Africa qualification tournament. Therefore, the winner of the final match will secure a flight to Paris.
In the men’s 51kg, Zambia’s Chinyemba Patrick claimed a 4-1 win as he beat Morocco’s Mortaji Said and advanced to the final, with his unique boxing style. His skills will be put to the test in tomorrow’s final, where he will meet Tunisia’s Zidi Ala Eddine who finished in the spotlight today by winning a hard-fought match against Ghana’s Allotey Theophilus Kpakpo by unanimous decision.
The men’s 57kg final will see Nigeria’s Joshua Omole Dolapo and Ethiopia’s Yadesa Leta Fikremariyam competing for the gold medal and an Olympic berth, as they defeated Cameroon’s Alain Christian Sangue and Algeria’s Hichem Maouche, respectively, today.
Colin Louis Richarno from Mauritius gained a hard-fought 4-1 decision against Uganda’s Tukamuhebwa Joshua in the men’s 63.5kg category, keeping his Olympic dream alive. To secure a ticket to Paris already here in Dakar, he will have to beat Jugurtha Ait Bekka. The Algerian athlete reached the final by outscoring Masamba John Paul of South Africa by 5 points to 0, taking advantage of his longer reach and displaying his technical skills.
Elawady Omar Elsayed Ragab Elawad (EGY) won a 4-1 decision in his men’s 71kg semifinal against Fernandes De Barros Bruno Miguel (CPV), advancing to the final against Kulenguluka Mbiya Steve (COD), who secured his spot with a unanimous decision win over Pakela Arena Michael (LES).
Supported by a number of teammates shouting “pilli pilli” and “piga piga” – Swahili for “you’re on fire” and “hit hit” – Tanzania’s Changalawe Yusuf Lucasi outpowered Algeria’s Nemouchi Younes in the Men’s 80kg category. After dominating the first two rounds, he outclassed his opponents in round three, forcing the Algerian second to throw in the towel and abandon at 2:54. Chasing his Olympic dream, he will have to go against Egypt’s Abdelgawwad Abdelrahman at tomorrow’s final: only the winner will be guaranteed a ticket to Paris.
Moving on to the men’s 92kg category, Algeria’s Mohamed Houmri secured a 3-2 victory over Mozambique’s Gabriel Albino Julio, booking a final match against Nigeria’s Olaore Olaitan Adam. Another Algerian athlete, Mourad Kadi, qualified for the men’s +92kg event, as he outscored Agnes Keddy Evans (SEY), earning a spot in the final against Balde Diarga (SEN), the home athlete who won the applause of the crowd by defeating Morocco’s Mohamed Firisse after a tense match.
The Boxing Road To Paris Africa qualification tournament in Dakar, Senegal, has seen 235 athletes from 42 African nations competing in the event that started September 9th. In its last day, tomorrow, September 15th, 13 final matches are going to take place in as many weight categories, and 8 more Paris 2024 quota places are to be awarded (1 quota place to the winner of each of the 7 men’s events and 1 quota place to the winner of the women’s 75kg event).
All bouts are going to be broadcasted live by the Olympic channel: stay tuned on https://olympics.com/en/sports/boxing/ to follow the action in Dakar!