KAMPALA, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Uganda's flyweight boxer Catherine Nanziri cannot wait for the Tokyo Olympic Games to showcase her country's boxing talent on the international arena.
Nanziri will be the first ever female boxer to represent Uganda at the Olympics. For her, this is not a big challenge as she awaits to win medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which were delayed until 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a light training session with her coach Muhammad Ssekanjako, Nanziri told Xinhua in a recent interview that this is her time to carry the national flag high.
"I'm so happy to have a chance to qualify. My name is shining brightly and I will not allow any stumbling block to stop it from shining at the Olympics," the boxer, who weighs 51kg said.
Nanziri qualified for the Games after the second trials in France were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the first trials in Senegal, she did not make it.
"I did not expect to qualify. I qualified based on my previous rankings of being the 12th in the world, fourth best female boxer in Africa and top in Uganda," Nanziri said.
Failure to qualify during the first trials in Senegal was a learning process for Nanziri. She said her skills have not greatly improved.
For Nanziri, breaking through a male-dominated sport has not been easy. She has been bullied during her morning and evening jogs.
"I have not given up. They think boxing is only for street children, but I want to prove them wrong," Nanziri said.
"I think even that mentality has started changing. Many youth are now looking up to us. We shall not let them down," she said.
She said her coach and parents have been good support structures in her boxing career.
Nanziri will be joined by two other male boxers, Shadir Musa Bwogi and David Ssemujju at the Tokyo Games.
Bwogi will represent in the welterweight category while Ssemujju will be in the middle weight category.
Ssemujju told Xinhua in a recent interview that he only sees victory at the Tokyo Games.
"Now that I have qualified for Tokyo, I'm working so hard to learn from my mistakes and move to greater heights," he said. During the Senegal qualification event, Ssemujju failed but qualified at the second event in France was cancelled.
He said he is working on bettering his speed, footwork and more techniques.
"Generally it is hard work that makes one achieve success. That is what I am doing now, working hard. I thank my coaches for being there for me," Ssemujju said.
Bwogi will head the trio to the Games. He said as team captain, the focus is on winning, breaking records and setting personal records.
He said the team is ready for the Games although more buildup matches are needed.
Patrick Lihanda, the national boxing coach is optimistic about the team's performance at the Olympics.
"We have been building their speed work, strength, endurance and the right mentality," Lihanda said.
"They have the techniques and skills but these need to be tested," he added.