Pakela flies to Italy for Olympics Qualifier



MASERU – Lesotho’s star boxer, Arena Pakela, is set to secure his ticket to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games during the First World Olympic Boxing Qualifiers in Busto Arsizio, Italy, beginning next week. The 26-year-old Pakela will depart for Busto Arsizio next Wednesday, just a day before the qualifying tournament kicks off on February 29.

According to international reports, the top four boxers in each class will qualify for the Paris Olympics, with a total of 49 quotas available in Busto Arsizio: 21 for women and 28 for men.

This marks Pakela’s second attempt at qualification, having come close during the African Olympic Boxing Qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal, in September last year. At that event, he needed at least a silver but settled for bronze after losing (5-0) to Steve Kulenguluka of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the semi-final.

“I can say so far that my preparations for the upcoming Olympics qualifiers are good,” Pakela shared in an interview with Public Eye this week. “My preparation goes well, and I have no complaints.” However, he acknowledged that the Busto Arsizio qualifiers would be tougher compared to the Dakar ones. The Dakar qualifiers were continental, while the upcoming ones in Busto Arsizio will be global.

“The upcoming qualifiers will be tougher than the previous ones. This is because the Dakar qualifiers were contested mostly by African boxers, while the upcoming qualifiers will be contested by boxers from around the world. But I am going to fight tooth and nail to secure qualification for the Paris Olympics.”

Pakela remains steadfast in his commitment and is primarily driven by the recent achievement of local taekwondo star Michelle Tau, who successfully secured a spot at the Paris Olympic Games during the African Qualification Tournament held in Dakar just two weeks ago.

“As part of his preparation for the Busto Arsizio qualifiers, Pakela went to Bloemfontein for sparring matches against some of the best South African boxers last weekend.”

The Lesotho Boxing Association’s (LeBA) Public Relations Officer, Rethabile Ntiea, explained the decision to seek sparring sessions outside the country due to the challenge of finding tough opponents for Pakela in Lesotho.

“If Pakela cannot qualify in Busto Arsizio, he will still have a chance to do so in the Second World Olympic Boxing Qualifiers in Bangkok from May 23 to June 3.”

Pakela, currently under the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship, is among the local athletes making strides towards Paris 2024.

Lesotho already has two athletes qualified for the Paris Olympic Games: Tebello Ramakongoana (the men’s marathon) and Michelle Tau. Ramakongoana qualified during the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in August last year.

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