NSC in the corner with Olympic-aspiring boxers

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By Avenash Ramzan

Four Guyanese boxers will in late December head off to Cuba for a three-month Olympic Qualifiers training, aimed at fine tuning their skills in order to seal spots at the global event. On Tuesday, the National Sports Commission made the first in a series of disbursements to aid the boxers over the coming months.

The Olympic Qualifiers will be held from March 26 to April 3, 2020, in Argentina. The aim of the Guyana Boxing Association (GBA) is to have Guyanese boxers qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 1996 when John Douglas represented Guyana at the games.

President of the GBA, Steve Ninvalle, said his association is cognisant of the need to have a fully prepared group of boxers who have every chance of qualifying for the Olympics.

Those aspirations though, could only be met with the necessary funding, something Ninvalle and the Association are happy to receive from the government.

“We are very happy that government could have seen it fit to be with us and partner with us, because it is quite a long journey to get to an Olympic medal and we would want to have our team of boxers and coaches in Cuba for at least three months in order to prepare fully,” Ninvalle explained.

He continued, “I think that will give them ample time to prepare; before you would have had two weeks, a week or three weeks before the competition (to prepare). This time we’re carrying it a little further and we would want to extend gratitude to the National Sports Commission and by extension the government of Guyana for coming onboard. ”

Technical Director of the Terrence Poole echoed similar sentiments: “If you need good results in any sports you have to start with investment. I appreciate very much the contribution being made by the government of Guyana, seeing it fit to make that contribution where we could have a proper and well-prepared team going into the Olympic Qualifier.”

Director of Sports Christopher Jones said he understands the need for a longer encampment and training period, hence the decision to give financial backing to the Boxing Association’s quest.

“It is known that Guyana stands its best chance in medalling at an Olympic through the sport of boxing. We too are cognisant of the fact that you cannot have the boxers or any sport discipline or athletes only prepare two weeks, three weeks before,” Jones reckoned.

“They need to be in camp for at least a period of about three months. Having the opportunity to have our boxers prepared in Cuba we see it as most fitting and that is why the government, with the support of the National Sports Commission, reached out to Mr. Ninvalle and the Boxing Association and indicated that we want to ensure that the boxers have every opportunity to prepare for the Qualifiers.”

The National Sports Commission’s funding, amounting to $2.5 million, will help to cover airfare, accommodation and meals for the boxers and coaches during the stay in Cuba.

“So what we’re going to be doing today essentially is provide the first sum of disbursement to the Boxing Association and of course in January we will, if not complete the full sum, we will do same in February,” Jones indicated.

According to Ninvalle, the entire trip would cost US$30,000 and they have also received a financial commitment from the Guyana Olympic Association.

The four boxers slated to make the trip are Dennis Thomas, Desmond Amsterdam, Colin Lewis and Keevin Allicock. The coaches are Terrence Poole and Sebert Blake.

The contingent is expected to leave Guyana for Cuba on December 29.

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