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Kenya's Ongare seals Tokyo Olympics ticket

Saturday February 29 2020
ongare_pix

Kenya's Christine Ongare poses for photos after her unanimous points decision victory over Uganda’s Catherine Nanziri in the flyweight box-off to become the first Kenyan woman boxer to qualify for the Olympics through a competitive qualifier on February 29, 2020. PHOTO | POOL |

By AYUMBA AYODI

Kenya’s Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Christine Ongare is through to 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The 26-year-old Ongare beat Uganda’s Catherine Nanziri in a unanimous decision in the flyweight box-off on Saturday to become the first Kenyan woman boxer to qualify for the Olympics through a competitive qualifier.

However, Elizabeth Andiego made history as the first Kenyan woman to make the Olympics after she was handed a wild card for the 2012 London Summer Games.

Ongare became the second Kenyan to qualify for the Tokyo Games after Nick Okoth.

Ongare, who honed her skills at Kentrack Club but now features for Kenya Police Service, scored 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 and 29-28 respectively.

Each of the five judges gave Ongare victory in the first two rounds, scoring 10-9 but three judges gave her the third round.

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Ongare, who kicked off her boxing career in 2011 in Kariobangi, became the first Kenyan woman to win a Commonwealth Games medal in boxing when she claimed bronze in flyweight category in Gold Coast in 2018.

Ongare had in the semi-finals lost to qualifiers second seeded Moroccan Rabab Cheddar on Wednesday.

Cheddar went on to win the final, beating top seeded Roumaysa Boualam from Algeria 5-0.

“I became a mother at 12 and I have had a very tough upbringing. A single mother raised me and I will forever be indebted to my mum who brought up my kid like her own. Up to date, my kid still refers to her grandmother as her own mother,” an emotional Ongare told the Olympic Channel.

“I tried playing football and martial arts, but settled on boxing. It is what I believe will change my life. Once you fall in life the only option is to rise up. I am a ghetto girl and I know back there are many people who would like to follow my path, but face many stumbling blocks like meeting their most basic needs, desperation kicks in. I have been through all that but life has to go on."

“It a very good opportunity for me,” she added.

OKOTH FALLS TO MULENGA

Meanwhile, Nick “Commander” Okoth, who had earlier claimed his ticket in the featherweight, went on to lose the final to Everisto Mulenga from Zambia on Saturday.

Okoth, 36, who will be making his second appearance at the Olympics after 12 years, lost to Mulenga in a split 4-1 decision; 28-29, 27-30, 29-28, 27-30 and 28-29 respectively.

It’s left to be known whether Kenya will send boxers to the last World Olympic qualifying tournament due May 13–20 in Paris.

Already, Olympian Rayton Okwiri, who lost in the second round of his middleweight category in Dakar, has expressed his interest in the Paris qualifiers.

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