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“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you're not, pretend you are.” – Muhammad Ali

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sibusiso Keketsi Q&A: “Olympic medal is possible for Lesotho”

Moroke Mokhothu... Lesotho Olympian and future prospect...
2016 was a promising year for Lesotho boxing. In August, two Lesotho boxers – Moroke Mokhotho and Suntele Inkululeko – competed at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

It was the first time Lesotho had qualified for Olympic boxing tournament since Sydney in 2000. With 2016 in the books and 2017 upon us, the key is to build on the promise. The Molapo Sports Centre catches up Lesotho national boxing coach Sibusiso Keketsi for his thoughts on boxing’s progress and goals going forwards.

MSC: How did 2016 go in the boxing scene? What were your highlights and lowlights?
Keketsi: Even though our boxers qualified for the Olympic Games which was only the second time that Lesotho has ever qualified for boxing at the Olympic Games since the 2000 Sydney Olympics, it was not easy at all. We can’t deny the fact that there are challenges within boxing and within its stakeholders and this has affected our sport in a negative way. So, qualifying for the Olympics was the best thing to have happened to the boxing family.

Boxing royalty... Lesotho boxing coach Sibusiso Keketsi (left)
with Floyd Mayweather at Rio 2016
MSC: What are your plans for 2017? Which tournaments and international competitions are on the calendar?
Keketsi: We want to start preparing for the next Olympic Games (in 2020). Also to secure sponsors for our boxers and send them to the (AIBA) World Boxing Championships (in Hamburg, Germany) and the regional Zone VI games.

MSC: How was the experience of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games? What did you learn and gain from it as a coach and as a team?
Keketsi: Competing with a team that didn’t get enough support and that didn’t have a chance to prepare on time, I have noticed that winning an Olympic medal is possible for our country; but, of course, that can only happen with good preparation and exposure.

It wasn’t my first Olympics as a coach and I have experienced it as an athlete. There isn’t much that is outstanding that I learned from Rio except that everything is possible with good preparation.

MSC: What is next for Lesotho’s Olympians Moroke Mokhotho and Suntele Inkululeko?
Keketsi: The two boxers have already started preparing for the next international events such as the World Boxing Championships.

MSC: Are there any young boxers that you are excited about going forward?
Keketsi: There are some from the boxing team that took part in the (AUSC) Region 5 Games in December and we have identified potential boxers who will be joining the senior team from now onwards.

MSC: How do you plan to build on the promising fact that Lesotho had two boxers at the Rio Olympics?
Keketsi: Like I mentioned earlier, we have already started training and, if things go as planned, we shall have international competitions before the (2020) Olympics. With that route, we believe that we can produce a competitive team for those Games with a possibility of a medal.

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