Okoth in fitness dilemma as he prepares for Olympic swansong

Gilbert Kiprotich in Nairobi For Nick Okoth, it was a case of so close yet so far. The Kenya Boxing ‘Hit Squad’ captain was barely a month after sealing his spot to the  2020 Olympic Games, set for Tokyo, Japan when the Games were postponed to the Summer of 2021 over coronavirus. Okoth fondly known as ‘Commander’ had pulled one of his best punches at the Olympics qualifiers in Senegal to make a return to the Summer Games after a 12-year hiatus. With the unprecedented spread of the virus leading to the delay of the Games by a year, Okoth is still focused on what will be his final appearance at the biggest sporting extravaganza. “I have to keep my focus because sometimes obstacles come between you and your target but that does not mean you surrender. In fact, in this case we are only talking about postponement, already dates have been set for next year,” Okoth told Citizen Digital. Okoth however admits that his momentum and level of fitness has been greatly affected owing to the current dynamics brought about by the virus.
Team Kenya’s boxing team before flying to Dakar, Senegal for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualifiers. Photo by Mkalla Mwambodze.
He observes that he is now forced to train alone at home without his coaches led by Benjamin Musa (head coach) although he keeps contact with them. “I cannot lie to you; I can’t be at the same level I was before. I think I have added at least five kilos but I am still training at home as I observe government’s directive. Right now, my coaches are still following my programs but it can’t be the same as when they are physically present,” he said. At 37, and with the age catching up with him, the veteran boxer said he wants to leave a mark as he exits – and at the biggest stage. “I started focusing on Tokyo Olympics after I missed out on the last edition in Rio. For sure, it will be my last appearance at the Games and I want to win a gold medal,”he said. Okoth will be joined by Christine Ongare, another Kenyan boxer who has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics which were rescheduled to July 23-August 8, 2021.

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