The hopes of Barbadian boxers Jabali Breedy, Charles Cox and Kimberly Gittens to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan have been dampened after the Americas Boxing Qualifiers were cancelled.
Worse yet, Breedy and Cox who are currently based in Washington DC where they were in camp preparing for those qualifiers, have both tested positive for the Coronavirus.
Barbados TODAY was reliably informed that Breedy and Cox tested positive for Coronavirus on Friday, April 16, a day after the qualifiers were cancelled.
Meanwhile, Gittens, Barbados’ top female boxer who was also in training camp with Breedy and Cox, returned home on Tuesday, April 20 after her results were negative.
When contacted, outgoing Barbados Boxing Association (BBA) President Richard Atwell said that despite the cancellation, he was certain that at least one of the national boxers would be chosen to represent Barbados at the Olympics.
According to Atwell, the selection will be based on the International Olympic Committee which has a procedure to determine which boxer will be chosen to represent the country.
“They will be using the ranking system of the boxers. I don’t know which ranking they are going to use if they are going to use the one for AIBA or what. But we still have a chance of getting into the Olympics,” he said.
A report published by insidethegames.biz dated Friday, April 16th, stated that the reason the qualifiers were cancelled was that the Americas had put tighter restrictions in place because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The article went on to explain that qualification for the Tokyo Games would be determined through the Boxing Task Force (BTF) rankings.
]“In recent weeks, tighter travel restrictions and lockdowns have been implemented across the region, which has significantly disrupted international travel and pose logistical challenges to teams travelling to and from Buenos Aires, jeopardising their ability to participate in the event,” the BTF said.
The article further went on to state: “Given the nature of the event as an Olympic qualifier which will award a large number of direct quota places for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, ensuring fair access and a safe environment for all athletes and officials is of the greatest importance.
“Unfortunately, the current situation in the region does not provide the assurances needed for these principles to be followed at the event scheduled in Buenos Aires.
“For this reason, after a thorough assessment and consultations with teams, the BTF’s athlete ambassadors and boxing experts plus the Organising Committee, the BTF has decided to cancel the event and restructure the Tokyo 2020 qualification pathway for the Americas region.”
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics is scheduled for July 23rd to August 8th and Gittens who is currently home in quarantine said for her it was not over until “the fat lady sings.”
In a brief telephone interview with Barbados TODAY, Gittens, a Central American and Caribbean bronze medallist, explained that mentally and physically she was doing well.
“I am happy to be home. It was tough.
I am still working out, trying to keep the same schedule as I was up the road (Washington DC). I am still trying to put in two workouts a day.
“We are still trying to keep up with the program because we don’t know how things are going to turn and who might be selected.
So, the entire team still has to train as if we were going.
“All is not lost. It is just that there is a lot of uncertainty but all hope is not lost. We are hoping that we get one person in (Olympics) whoever that may be,” Gittens said.
Despite not allowing herself to feel dispirited about the cancellation, Gittens did acknowledge that this was the type of situation that could lead to the boxers feeling depressed.
And she pointed out that it is not just Barbados but others around the Caribbean who are feeling disappointed.
“It is very depressing for anybody preparing for something and then to hear it is not happening anymore. It is very easy for the mind and body to relax.
“We are most worried obviously because we are already disadvantaged because we don’t get to go to certain games that would qualify you for a world ranking in the Americas. We mostly box within ourselves… so everybody is in limbo.
“I spoke to my friends from Trinidad. They are not happy about it but everybody still came up with the plan to keep training because this could be a blessing in disguise. We might get more of a fair opportunity here than if we even went to a qualifier,” she explained.
But Gittens said she does not intend to lose focus on what is at stake and that is the possibility of representing Barbados at the Olympics.
“You have people behind you backing you, so if nothing else that should help motivate your mindset and drive you to push yourself,”
Gittens added. [email protected]