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Okoth starts Kenya’s quest for Commonwealth medals with 60kg round

Keith McGhie in Gold Coast @peoplesports11

Kenya’s bid to follow last June’s successful African Boxing Championships with Commonwealth Games medals commences at the Oxenhope Studios on the northern outskirts of Gold Coast in Australia today.

Nicholas Okoth is the first of a 10-strong team to step into a ring which is set in a world-class film production complex more familiar with witnessing box office smashes than those emitted by pugilists.

Thor and Pirates of the Caribbean are among the big Hollywood movies made at Oxenhope and 35-year old veteran Okoth will be hoping that opponent Michael Alexander, from Trinidad and Tobago, plays just a bit part in their bout of three, three-minute rounds.

Their 60kg preliminary round clash is the opening bout in a boxing tournament that is stretched over all but two of the 11 days of Commonwealth competition.

Kenyan Police officer Okoth, who won bronze in the 56kg division back at the Dehli Games in 2010, will be followed into action tomorrow by Elly Ochala (91kg), Sahffi Hassan (49kg) and Edwin Owuor (75kg).

Double former Commonwealth medallist Benson Gicharu aims to finally add gold to his collection of silver in 2010 and bronze in Glasgow four years ago when he fights English southpaw Peter McGrail, who became the European champion in the same 56kg division last year.

Gicharu’s last 16 bout is on Saturday with the rest of the Kenyan squad, including three women, making their first appearances on Sunday and Monday.

Lorna Simba fights Canada’s May-Jeanne Parent for a place in the quarter finals, where she will hope to be joined by team captain and heavyweight hope Nickson Abaka at 81kg level.

Elizabeth Andiego is already assured a women’s 75kg quarter-final berth having drawn a bye in the previous round, while Brian Agina is also a round closer to the medal contests in the lesser subscribed 52kg division, where he meets Syed Muhammad Asif from Pakistan.

Christine Ongare doesn’t enter the ring until after 9pm on Wednesday, in the knowledge that she is already a round closer to a medal in the women’s 51kg section than she was in 2104 when she went out at the last 16 stage.

Mohamed, 19, and Hanifa Said had hoped to make it a family affair in the two triathlons which take to the Gold Coast streets and waters today but a damaged finger in training just two days before the Games has cruelly ruled the latter out of the men’s race.

The talented teenager was reported to have undergone surgery on a broken finger yesterday and was sadly forced to withdraw, leaving Kenya with just 24-year Hanifa to support.

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