You are here: HomeSports2023 09 22Article 694355

Sports News of Friday, 22 September 2023


Paris 2004: Konyegwachie fancies boxing gold for Team Nigeria

File photo to illustrate the story File photo to illustrate the story

Former Olympian and National Boxing Team Coach, Anthony Konyegwachie, and his wards have just returned from Dakar, Senegal where three of his boxers picked the tickets to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. As the world prepares for the Paris Games, Konyegwachie wants to fine-tune the boxers by exposing them to the best training regime abroad so that Nigeria can land the elusive boxing gold medal in Paris.

Coach Anthony Konyegwachie had a firm belief in his nine-man boxing team to the Olympic Games qualifiers held in Dakar, Senegal.

In fact, he described the team as the best to represent Nigeria in recent times and expressed the confidence that the team would pick multiple tickets for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“I have no doubt about these boxers because they have what it takes to pick tickets in Dakar. At least we will pick two tickets to Paris because these boxers are experienced, having competed at continental championships while some of them featured at the Commonwealth Games. At least two to three boxers will make it to France. My boxers are good in both the male and female categories.” Konyegwachie told NationSport before the qualifiers in Dakar.

In the end, it was trio of Cynthia Ogunsemilore, Joshua Omole and Adam Olaore that proved their coach right as they conquered in Dakar to return Nigeria to the boxing event of the Olympic Games.

Going over how the success was achieved, Konyegwachie stated: “The journey began with the hosting of a championship with the four medallists at the National Sports Festival and others for three days. We held the Olympics trial to select the boxers and the winners were invited to the campaign. Immediately after the championship, we took about five of them to Cameroon for the African Championship for exposure because they were all new but we were able to get one gold, one silver and two bronze medals there. Joshua Omole won a bronze medal in his first outing.

“Coming back, we moved into camp for proper training and the Olympics qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal. We spent three weeks in camp and I was able to drill and impact so much into them which was what brought about this result. Getting to Dakar, Omole who just won bronze a few weeks back won a gold medal. Ogunsemilore, Olaore and the rest of them won bronze medals in Cameroon and the same girl that defeated Omowunmi Oyesiji in Cameroon defeated her in Senegal when they met in the semi-final. The Algerian girl is an Olympian and well exposed. I think the more we have international competitions, the more these boxers get better and develop every day.”

Konyegwachie believed that Ogunsemilore, Omole and Olaore have what it takes to win the first gold medal for the country in boxing if they start to prepare now, even as he admitted that funding their preparations is a huge challenge. Consequently, he appealed to the authorities and the private sector to come to the pugilists’ aid.

His words: “We want the private sector and sports lovers to come out and assist us. We need to go for good training outside; three to four months of training, immediately after the All African Games next year. They should send us out for training so that we can bring the gold. We’ve won about three to four silver medals in boxing and this time around, we want to bring the gold medal. That is my dream as a coach. I want to be the first coach to win the first gold medal for Nigerian boxing. It is not easy but I know it will surely be done. I have won gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and African championships, except the Olympics gold. I really want to win an Olympic gold medal. I want my boys to win and I believe they can do it because they have the power, ability and knowledge to win it. Just a little support or push will make them bring the medal home.”

Konyegwachie continued: “The problem we are facing in Nigerian boxing is the problem of money. Money is a major challenge to go for competitions. The President and some board members were able to put money together for us to come to Dakar and to make this qualifier successful. We thank God we came back and finished as number two in Africa. Algeria got three gold and two silver medals to beat us as we got three gold and three bronze medals. We had just three weeks training unlike Algeria, which trained in Italy. Many countries train outside their country. We train locally. The experience I’ve acquired as a coach and as a boxer, that’s what really helped our boxers to do really well.

“For the Olympics proper I believe they will allow us to go for a good training tour so that these boxers can be well exposed to quality training, high-class, quality gym, equipment and facilities. We have nothing, we are just improvising to make things move and make these boxers succeed. I pray we get the opportunity from the Ministry of Sports Development so that we can go for a good training tour and be well prepared. These boxers with me are qualified and I tell you the three of them can bring the Olympics gold medals, with good nurturing, training and exposure.”