It was the biggest day so far at the Dakar Arena for the African Olympic Qualifiers, as 26 athletes won their quota places to compete in the Japanese capital this summer at the Games of the 32nd Olympiad.
The first boxer to receive her ticket for Tokyo was the number-one seed in the Women’s Feather, 23-year-old Sadie KENOSI from Botswana. Her victory over Morocco’s Widad BERTAL also means that she is the first boxer ever to qualify in this weight class, as the Women’s 54–57kg is a new category in the Olympic programme. This summer, it will also be the first medal to be awarded in Tokyo for boxing.
Shortly after, in Ring B, two-time African Games medallist Khouloud MOULAHI (TUN) looked ecstatic at booking her place in Tokyo after defeating DR Congo’s 2017 African champion Marcelat SEKOBI MATSHU.
Morocco had a brilliant day at the semi-finals, with four athletes qualifying for Tokyo. In the Women’s Welter, Oumayma BEL AHBIB sealed her place at what will be her first Olympic Games; and in the Women’s Middle, the outstanding Khadija MARDI won her North African derby against Algeria’s Ichrak CHAIB. In the Men’s Heavy, Youness BAALLA scored a 4-1 win over Kenyan Ajowi ELLY, while Rabab CHEDDAR emerged victorious in her Women’s Fly evening session over another Kenyan, Christine ONGARE.
Staying in the Maghreb region of North Africa, Algeria won a sensational seven quota places today. Mohamed FLISSI confirmed his ticket to his third consecutive Olympic Games and will hope to go even better than the quarter-finals, where he finished at Rio 2016. One ahead of Flissi, Tokyo will be the fourth Games for the vastly experienced Abdelhafid BENCHABLA. He has reached the quarter-finals at the last three Olympics, but will compete in the Heavyweight category for the first time this summer.
Younes NEMOUCHI will debut at the Games after 10 years in boxing, and will be joined by 33-year-old Chouaib BOULOUDINATS, African Games bronze medallist Mohammed HOUMRI, Women’s Light boxer Imane KHELIF and the current Women’s Fly African Games champion, Roumaysa BOUALAM.
Mozambique will have at least two representatives in Tokyo: Helena PANGUANA in the Women’s Welter and Adosinda RADY in the Women’s Middle. This is a superb achievement for the south-eastern African country, which has taken fewer than 10 athletes to every Olympic Games since Los Angeles 1984. Incidentally, it was at those Olympics in California where Zambia won its only medal in boxing to date – namely, a bronze for Keith MWILA. The south-central African country won three quota places today courtesy of Stephen ZIMBA in the Men’s Welter, Everisto MULENGA in the Men’s Feather and 19-year-old Patrick CHINYEMBA in the Men’s Fly.
Thanks to victories for Albert MENGUE (Men’s Welter) and Maxime NJIEYO (Men’s Super Heavy), Cameroon won two tickets to Tokyo, while Egypt will be represented in boxing by Abdelrahman ABDELGAWWAD, who won his Light Heavy bout against the Ghanaian, Shakul SAMED.
Namibia’s Jonas JONAS triumphed in the Men’s Light today after upsetting the odds against top-seeded Moroccan Abdelhaq NADIR. David TSHAMA won his Men’s Middle fight, and will be hoping to create history this summer by winning DR Congo’s first-ever Olympic medal – in any sport. Someone who did achieve that for their country was Bruno JULIE of Mauritius – a boxer, no less. He won bronze in the Bantamweight in Beijing in 2008. Today, Richarno LOUIS won his quota place in the Men’s Light and now dreams of bringing Olympic success back to the tiny island this summer.
Tomorrow will be a rest day for all the athletes, but the action will continue on Friday 28 February, with box-offs in the Men’s Fly (52kg), Light (63kg) and Middle (75kg); finals for the Men’s Fly (52kg), Light (63kg), Middle (75kg), Heavy (91kg) and Super Heavy (+91kg); and finals for the Women’s Feather (57kg) and Welter (69kg). More quota places will of course be up for grabs.
You can find all the other results from day 7 here
Follow the event live
The event will be broadcast live on the Olympic Channel. In addition to live streaming with commentary in English and French, highlights and news, the Olympic Channel will present a live studio show prior to the quarter-final, semi-final and final matches of each event.
News, photos and results will be posted online on the Athlete365 Boxing Corner platform at boxing.athlete365.org, while fans can join the conversation online using the hashtag #Boxing.
The session schedules for each of the events can be found here.