Olympiad Benson Gicharu would not have gained global acclaim had he given up after a career-threatening injury.
Gicharu, 31, broke his right hand wrist in November 2008, an injury that almost sent him to an early retirement. He, however, shook off the injury and returned to the ring a stronger athlete.
“I took time out to recover but the following year I was back training. I later was registered for a competitive match, where I fought the champion of the weight I was in (flyweight). I had not made it to the national team before, but I beat him in several consecutive fights and since then, I have made the squad,” said Gicharu in a post on Facebook, encouraging the injured Bandari keeper Wilson Obungu.
Now a bantamweight boxer, Gicharu qualified for Rio Olympics after beating Venezuelan Victor Rodriquez on points in one of the semi-finals of the AIBA Pro-Boxing (APB) and AIBA World Series of Boxing qualification event in Vargas, Venezuela in July.
This was Gicharu’s second appearance in the Olympics, after representing the country at the 2012 Games in London.
He was, however, eliminated by Mongolian Tsendbaatar Erdenebat, who floored him in the second round with a left hook that opened a deep cut above his right eyebrow.
The rest of the fight went Erdenebat’s way, shattering Gicharu’s hope of becoming the first Kenyan boxer to win a gold medal at the Olympics since 1988, when Robert Wangila won the Welterweight category in Seoul.
Wangila remains the only Kenyan Olympic gold medal winner outside athletics and the only boxer from Sub-Saharan Africa outside of South Africa to have won an Olympic gold medal.
Gicharu is a member of the Kenya Police boxing team, popularly known as Chafua Chafua. He has in the past won a silver medal in the flyweight category at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.