2019 African Games silver medalist Isaac Masembe did not leave anything to chance when he knocked out Rodgers Kamulegeya at the National Olympic Trials at Lugogo yesterday.
Masembe was not at his best in his first fight on Tuesday but squeezed through despite suffering a cut on his left eye. Lightweight favourite Yasin Adinan also beat Michael Ssengendo just like Bombers captain Musa Shadir Bwogi, who edged Martin Kimbugwe.
But the tournament that precedes the African Olympic qualifiers, has no favourites as some are already counting losses.
Moses Kabuuka is the latest victim having lost the decision to archrival Muhammad Lwanga yesterday afternoon. Kabuuka felt cheated when he lost to Police teammate Champion Businge in the elimination for the African Games in May. He promised to be more ruthless next time. But given a second chance, he fluffed it again, shattering his Olympic dream.
Crowd favourite ousted
Either way, this was meant to be a heartbreak because even Lwanga is a crowd favourite, who begun tussling for national team representation in his early teens. He will himself need to be at his best in a congested tournament, to don the national colours.
It seems the tightest competition is in the flyweight division among favourites and exciting novices.
Businge, who outclassed Mozambique’s 2012 Olympian Juliano Maquina 5-0 to reach the African Games quarterfinals in Rabat, was the first big-name casualty losing to the Youth Novices Champion Geoffrey Ochan on Day One.
Ochan went on to eliminate Ronald Gayita, another big name, while Joshua Male is in action again today after edging Joshua Mugabi on Day Two. Male is chasing a protracted national debut having missed out on the African Games for lack of a National ID and hence a passport.
After the elimination week, the 26 survivors will enter camp, awaiting the ultimate trials from which 13 will qualify for the African Olympic qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal in late February.
Selected Results - NATIONAL OLYMPIC TRIALS
M. Lwanga bt M. Kabuuka
M. Shadir bt M. Kimbugwe
G. Ochan bt R. Gayita
I. Masembe KO R. Kamulegeya
Y. Adinan bt M. Ssengendo