Algeria underlined its position as the powerhouse of African boxing as it qualified seven boxers for the Olympic Games on Wednesday at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Dakar, Senegal.
All finalists at the first of five Olympic qualifying events were guaranteed a spot in Tokyo this summer and, on a remarkable day of action, seven of the eight Algerian boxers who had made it to the last four stage won.
The winners included Abdelhafid Benchabla, 33, who will be going to his fourth Olympics, but his first as a heavyweight, having been beaten in the quarter-finals at light-heavyweight in each of his previous Games, one win short of a guaranteed medal.
“No more fifth place, now I want a medal,” Benchabla said.
Mohamed Flissi, the flyweight, and Chouaib Bouloudinats, the super-heavyweight,will each be going to their third Olympics.
The North African nation has a strong Olympic history and was the last African nation to win Olympic gold, in 1996 through Hocine Soltani. That is a legacy that still burns today, according to Chouaib Bouloudinats, the super-heavyweight, who will be heading to his third Olympics.
“We have a long history of boxing but our performance here is proof that Algeria is the home of boxing in Africa like Russia, Cuba, Kazakhstan [in Europe, America and Asia].”
After 172 bouts in Dakar, there are just two sessions remaining in the Africa Olympic Qualifying tournament. So far 26 boxers have secured their route to Tokyo for the Olympics this summer, but there are still another seven places up for grabs and a great deal of pride to box for too.