National welterweight champion Elizabeth Akinyi is confident she’ll reach the medal bracket and possibly win one of the medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Boosted by her participation in the Konstantin Korotkov Memorial Boxing Championships in the city of Khabarovsk, Russia last month, Akinyi said had increased her exposure and emboldened her confidence in future international championships.
Therefore, said she is determined to become the first Kenyan female boxer to win a medal at the Olympics.
Although European boxers are highly skilled and exposed due to the high quality of their facilities, she said she is determined to beat these odds at the Olympics as opposed to most African boxers who are beaten in international championships by the virtue of the skin colour of their opponents.
“These are a phenomenon, which we should shed off as we are equally skilled like the rest of world boxers but we (African boxers) are beaten psychologically by the virtue of the skin colour at the start of the bout, “she said.
“If our previous boxers could beat European champions in world championships for world titles, what went wrong with the current crop of boxers. We must come out victorious at the Olympics,” Akinyi said in reference to legend and former Commonwealth Games professional flyweight champion Steve Muchoki who was the first-ever African boxer to win a world title at the World Boxing Championships in 1978 in Yugoslavia.
While taking part in her first-ever international assignment outside Africa, Akinyi lauded the exposure in Russia saying the difference cannot be matched by African boxing powerhouses.
“African tournaments cannot be compared with European championships, which are highly competitive and skilled compared to the rest of the world but they are beatable,” Akinyi told Standard Sports in an exclusive interview.
She said her participation in the Russian championships had come at the right time when she was confident of winning a medal at the Olympics.
At the Russian Championships, Akinyi was beaten in the first round of the welterweight fight by Maria Moronto of Dominican Republic to finish fifth in that weight category alongside Commonwealth Games flyweight bronze medalist Christine Ongare after Kenya won two bronze medals through the 2015 Africa Boxing Championships lightweight gold medalist Nick Okoth and Africa Zone Three super heavyweight gold medalist Elly Ajowi.
The four boxers have qualified for the Olympics.
Algeria leads African countries who have qualified for Olympics with eight boxers followed by Morocco seven while Kenya and DRC have four each and Uganda, Ghana, Cameroon and Zambia have three each.
As she prepares for Olympics, Akinyi said the technical bench led by head coach Musa Benjamin is now focused to correct her weaknesses at the Russian Championships.
“They (coaches) are determined the same weaknesses are not repeated at the Olympics as it is the right time to do so,” she said.
Other members of the technical bench are deputy coach David Munuhe and assistant coaches John Waweru, Julius Theuri, Ibrahim ‘Surf’ Bilali and Charles Mukula.
Akinyi was also in the 16-man squad that featured in the Africa Zone Three Championships in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo that returned home with 16 medals where she won a bronze medal.