By Rawle Toney
Great expectations surround Barbados’ top boxers as they prepare to compete at this year’s Pan Am Games in Santiago, Chile.
Team manager Laurence Hunte is confident that the trio of Jabali Breedy (51kg), Kimberly Gittens (75kg), and Charles Cox (80kg), will secure a place on the podium during the event, which takes place from October 20 to November 5.
The only Barbadian pugilist to have medalled at the Pan Am Games is heavyweight Anderson Emmanuel, who clinched bronze in 2011 in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Breedy earned a bronze medal at this year’s Central American and Caribbean Games in El Salvador, contributing to Barbados’ total haul of nine medals (two gold, two silver, and five bronze).
“It would be significant for them to medal at the Pan Am Games,” Hunte stated in an interview with Barbados TODAY. “It would encourage the younger generation to keep pushing, and it would give recognition to everyone that boxing is still relevant.
“I think boxing is important. When you look back at the contributions boxing has made throughout the years, with regards to the medal tally (for Barbados), I think boxing has created a stamp for its own,” he noted.
Breedy trains at the Head Bangers Gym in Washington DC, USA, while Gittens and Cox are based in Colombia.
“The boxers were putting in the work, getting some sparring as they prepared for the Pan Am Games, so we’re all upbeat about our chances at the Pan Am Games because it’s also the qualifier for the 2024 Olympics,” Hunte stated.
According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the finalists in each category at the Pan Am Games will receive automatic qualification for the Paris Games.
In the event of an unsuccessful attempt, boxers will have to secure their entry through the two World Qualification tournaments or be selected as one of the IOC’s Universality picks.
Hunte acknowledges that the dual role of the tournament as an Olympic qualifier brings added pressure for the boxers, but believes it can serve as a powerful motivator.
“Facing opponents with higher rankings tends to raise your standards, and at every event, it’s a do-or-die situation; if you lose, you’re out. Nevertheless, I have full confidence in our boxers. They are exceptional athletes and will represent Barbados well,” he maintained.
This year, 30 Barbadian athletes will join over 6,000 athletes from across the Americas, participating in 38 sports, all vying for the opportunity to qualify for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
Team Barbados will compete in 20 different disciplines, spanning aquatics, athletics, badminton, boxing, cycling, e-football, equestrian, golf, gymnastics, rowing, sailing, shooting, squash, surfing, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, weightlifting, and wrestling.
The Pan American Games delegation, led by Chef de Mission Shelley-Ann Griffith, encompasses 30 officials, including coaches, management, and medical personnel, under the guidance of Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ingrid Burrowes.