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Two Nigerian boxers fail to qualify for Olympics in Thailand

Posted : 31 May 2024

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Two Nigerian boxers have exited the ongoing Road to Paris 2024 Olympic Qualifying tournament in Bangkok, Thailand.

Ifeanyi Onyekwere suffered a point decision defeat against Dmytro Lovchynskyi of Ukraine in the Men’s +92kg (Super-heavyweight) round of 32.

Following suit was Blessing Oraekwe who slumped to a unanimous points (0-5) loss to Ani Hovsepyan of Armenia in round 32 of the women’s 66kg.

Nigeria’s hopes of qualification for the Olympics are now pinned on three remaining female boxers – Zainab Adeshina (50kg), Patricia Mbata (75kg), and Elizabeth Oshoba (57kg).

The underwhelming performances by Team Nigeria at the qualifying in Thailand diminish the chances of the country’s athletes to share in the recently announced prize monies for medalists in the Paris Games.

The International Boxing Association made the announcement today despite having nothing to do with the competition at Paris 2024.

The disgraced Russian-led organization, which became the first sporting body to join World Athletics in offering prize money for Olympic medalists, was stripped of recognition by the International Olympic Committee last year over governance, finance, and ethical issues.

The tournament in Paris will instead be run by the IOC, so IBA’s offer to award the top performers at the Games has been dismissed as troublemaking by those within the boxing world.

IBA president Umar Kremlev is the former chief of the Russian Boxing Federation and announced ‘the unprecedented move in the history of the sport’ in a statement on Wednesday, claiming they will distribute more than $3.1m (£2.4m) to over 100 athletes.

He said IBA will award $100,000 (£78,500) to gold medalists, $50,000 (£39,000) for silver medals, and $25,000 (£19,500) for bronze.

Of those amounts, half will go to the athlete, with the other 50 percent shared between their coach and national federation. Boxers who lose in the quarter-finals and finish fifth will also each receive $10,000 (£7,850).

"Our athletes and their efforts must be appreciated," said Kremlev. "IBA offers opportunities and invests considerably in our boxers, they remain the focal point, and we will continue to support them at all levels."

"We pride ourselves on being among the pioneers in rewarding the athletes for their Olympic successes. As IBA president, I will always fight for our athletes’ wellbeing, and this step is consistent in terms of the existing commitments we have already taken.

"I am looking forward to this opportunity to honor the new champions, medalists, and quarter-finalists from Paris 2024."

Chris Roberts, the IBA’s secretary-general and CEO, added: "We are setting a clear example for many on how international federations should be treating their champions.

"This is real support with real actions, a thing that has become rare in the international sports environment.

"We are happy to be the lead sport to have this opportunity to support our boxers and reward them for their hard work and dedication."

However, sources are also skeptical over whether IBA would even pay the prize money they have promised, given their checkered track record.

The IOC, World Boxing – the new body set up to replace IBA – and GB Boxing were approached for comment.

IBA’s announcement comes seven weeks after track and field became the first sport to break with a 128-year Olympic tradition by offering prize money to athletes, with the award of $50,000 (£39,000) to gold medalists.

IOC president Thomas Bach criticized World Athletics last week, saying: "This proposal by World Athletics would benefit 48 athletes from about 2,000 participants in athletics in the Olympic Games and tens of thousands across the globe who are striving to participate in the Olympic Games.


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