Final Olympic boxing qualifier cancellation opens new window for Ugandan pugilists

The decision to cancel the final Olympic boxing qualifier for Tokyo 2020 - a global event that had been due to take place in Paris in June –was viewed negatively in many circles.
Up to 53 quota places that would have been available at the World Olympic Qualifier will now be assigned based on rankings instead, with the best-ranked boxer per region, per weight category receiving a Tokyo 2020 berth.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Boxing Task Force (BTF) said the changes to the qualification system ensure athletes from all regions have an equal chance to qualify for the Games.
The verdict will consequently be viewed in positive light in Uganda after it opened a new qualification window for up to four boxers.
These include featherweight Isaac Masembe, middleweight David Ssemuju and Catherine Nanziri who were all expected to compete in the global qualifier after losing in the semifinals and subsequent playoffs at the African Olympic Qualifiers in Senegal last year.   
 They are currently in a strong position to feature in Tokyo going by the latest regional rankings.
David Ssemuju is second in Africa, in the men’s middleweight (75kg), with 300 points and is favourite to earn a ticket with top-ranked Younes Nemouchi of Algeria having already qualified after defeating Ssemuju in the Dakar semifinals.
Featherweight Isaac Masembe (57kg) with 300 points, is joint seventh globally, but 35 points behind Moroccan Mohamed Hamout, who stopped him in the quarterfinals in Dakar.
With 200 points, Nanziri ranks 12th in the world among the female flyweights and fourth on the continent.
She stands a chance because the top three in Africa –Rabab Cheddar of Morocco, Roumaysa Boulam of Algeria, and Christine Ongare of Kenya, are already guaranteed slots in Tokyo.
Welterweight Nakalema, (69kg), with 200 points is joint 10th in the world and fourth in Africa, with her direct rival being Elizabeth Akinyi of Kenya, who is also 10th on 200 points.

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Published: 02/26/2021