Kenya’s Cristine Ongare has qualified for the 2020 Olympics that will be held in Tokyo, Japan.
The boxer earned a spot at the summer event after she edged out Uganda’s Catherine Nanziri in their flyweight semi-finals match on Saturday, February 29, becoming the first female boxer from the country to feature at the event in the category.
Ongare won on a popular vote from the five judges, beating the Ugandan 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, 29-28 to emerge victorious with a total of 147 points against Catherine’s 138.
Cristine Ongare after she qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics following a win over Uganda’s Catherine Nanziri on Saturday, February 29, 2020.
She had earlier on lost to Moroccan Rajab Cheddar in the flyweight semifinal on Wednesday, February 26, in Dakar, Senegal but has sailed through to the Olympics after her win over the Ugandan.
The 27-year old became a mother in her early teenage years after giving birth at the age of 12, but has overcome the challenges in her life to represent Kenya at the summer feat.
“I am really hoping to make it to Tokyo. It would be a very good opportunity for me,” Ongare stated in an emotional interview with Olympic Channel on Wednesday, February 26.
In the interview, she shared her journey to the boxing world and how her early pregnancy forced her to drop out of school.
“I got pregnant at 12 and I have had a very tough upbringing. A single mother raised me and I will forever be indebted to her – she brought up my kid like her own,” Ongare recounted.
“I have good coaches who have advised and helped me build myself, and I have learnt a lot from them. It would be a very good opportunity for me to qualify and the money I get will change my life,” she narrated.
The Commonwealth Games bronze medallist had tried football and acrobatics earlier in her career before she settled on boxing. Ongare conceded to boxing for the future of her child.
The fighter shared the plight of many other girls in Nairobi’s Eastlands, stating that there are young ladies who look up to her but cannot pursue boxing or any other sport because they are already mothers at a young age, just like she was.
“Due to desperation, being raised by single parents and drug addiction, many young girls in Eastlands cannot join the sport. They are weighed down by the struggle to meet even the most basic needs like food for their kids and it is not easy,” she said.
The boxer is also the first Kenyan woman to win a Commonwealth Games medal in boxing. She claimed a bronze medal in the flyweight category in Gold Coast in 2018.
Ongare will fly the country’s flag high alongside Nick Okoth who became the first Kenyan boxer to qualify for the 2020 Olympics after edging out Ugandan Isaac Masembe on Wednesday at the ongoing Africa qualifiers in Dakar.
Christine Ongare ???????? gets the first #Tokyo2020 spot of the day! Emotions are running high in Dakar.
— Olympic Channel (@olympicchannel) February 29, 2020