Trio fail in Olympic bid
SOUTH Africa’s three female boxers have failed to qualify for the Olympic Games, leaving the country with just two male pugilists bound for London.
Claudia Heijns, competing in the 75kg division, was SA’S last hope at the women’s world championships in China, but she was stopped in the third round by Dara Flora Shen of Taiwan.
Heijns was trailing 9-25 when referee Emre Aydin of Turkey halted the contest.
Andi du Plessis (51kg) and Thobile Khumalo (60kg) lost at the weekend, both on points. Du Plessis went down 12-26 and Khumalo 6-27.
Women’s boxing was included in the London Olympic programme in 2009, but South Africa’s amateur boxing bosses started their search for female combatants only last year.
And the lack of experience showed in China.
The sad fact is not only did SA’S trio fail to win a fight, they were unable to win even a single round.
Du Plessis came the closest on that score, going down 4-5 in the third round of her contest against Jana Juranova of the Czech Republic.
The men haven’t been much better. None of them secured qualification at their world championships last year.
But they got a second crack of getting to London at the African qualifying tournament in Casablanca recently.
Of the nine men who went to Morocco, only two succeeded – bantamweight Ayabonga Sonjica and welterweight Simphiwe Lusizi.
Both made the top four in their divisions, although both were eliminated in the semifinals. Namibia and Mauritius also had two boxers qualify.
Jackson Chauke was the only SA boxer to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and he managed to land just one scoring punch.
The last SA boxers to win Olympic fights were Jeffrey Mathebula and Danie Venter at the 2000 Games in Sydney.
And the last time SA boxers won Olympic medals was more than half a century ago, at the 1960 Games in Rome, courtesy of heavyweight Danie Bekker (silver) and featherweight William Meyers (bronze).