Boxer Allicock and coach Blake off to Russia for pre-Olympic training
By Avenash Ramzan
Guyanese boxer Keevin Allicock and AIBA Three-Star Boxing Coach Sebert Blake have departed Guyana for Russia, where they will spend the next three weeks in a high-level training camp ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Allicock, ranked 19 in the world and seven in the Americas, made the cut to the global Games, set for July 23 to August 8, 2021.
The training has been facilitated by the Guyana Olympic Association, and will allow Allicock to spar with top flight boxers as he intensifies preparations for the Games.
The confident 22-year-old said he is looking forward to the camp, as he seeks to get into peak condition for competitive action in three weeks.
Allicock, who became the first Guyanese boxer since John Douglas in 1996 to qualify for the Olympic Games, expressed gratitude to the Guyana Olympic Association for making the trip to Russia possible.
“It’s an honour to be representing my country at such a major Games. I want to say thanks to everyone that has supported me, whether it’s an advice, whether it’s a cheque, a compliment; this really means a lot to me,” Allicock said.
AIBA Three-Star coach, Sebert Blake, who has been in Allicock’s corner since he was 14, said qualification is a dream realised.
“I want to give Guyana some assurance that we’re going to try and do our utmost best, because for the last three years, myself, and Keevin especially, have been professing we have to go to Japan, we have to go to the Olympics. This was like a daily cry,” Blake expressed.
“It’s my dream also to coach a boxer to the Olympics, and it has come true.”
Vice-president of the Guyana Olympic Association, Dr. Karen Pilgrim, indicated she had no doubts the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games silver medallist would book a spot at the Olympics.
“I first met him when we went to the Commonwealth Youth Games in Bahamas in 2017. I’m really proud of him. I liked his spirit from the very beginning, his whole attitude to his sport. I never doubted he would get to the Olympics; if was not this one, the next. There was never any doubt in my mind since I met him,” Dr. Pilgrim, who was Guyana’s Chef-de-Mission at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, asserted.
President of the Guyana Boxing Association, Steve Ninvalle, while pointing out Allicock’s qualification as a “fillip for the sport in Guyana”, lauded the “unflinching support” of the Olympic Association to the development of boxing.
“And I guess with this sort of approach that this will not be the last time we would be seeing someone from the sport of boxing qualifying for the Olympics, but in the near future we will be seeing many more,” Ninvalle envisaged.
Ninvalle, who is also the country’s Director of Sport, indicated that a crucial factor in Allicock booking his ticket to Tokyo was the “extensive exposure” he was afforded in his career thus far, among them the World Championship, Pan Am Games, Central America and Caribbean Games and Commonwealth Games.
“It just underlines fully the need for support in having our athletes exposed. I wouldn’t be selfish and say that this is about boxing alone, but this is straight across the field. We need to have our athletes exposed and that’s the only way,” Ninvalle stressed.
K.A. Juman Yassin, the President of the Guyana Olympic Association, fully concurs with the sentiments expressed by Ninvalle, stating “we need to get our athletes in more and more international competitions.”
“This is where the funding has to come in. I’m also happy to see that the corporate sector of Guyana is now coming on board,” the long-serving President commented.
“If you (Keevin) can win a medal, and I hope you do, it would be a fillip for our athletes, because more and more of the corporate sector will come on board.”
The Guyana Olympic Association and Guyana Boxing Association apart, Allicock has received support from the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, E-Networks and ANSA McAL Trading.