T&T's Olympic boxer Nigel Paul is among four fighters of the elite boxing team to have qualified for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, in July-August.
The T&T Boxing Association confirmed this recently, noting it is the first time the country has qualified so many boxers for any of the major quadrennial games.
The quartet, Paul, Aaron Prince, Tyron Thomas and Michael Alexander all won their preliminary bouts at the qualifiers in Nicaragua last week, with Alexander moving on to earn a bronze medal in his division.
Meanwhile, Tyron Thomas, who recently made the transition from youth to the elite, came in for special mention. After a credible performance at the AMBC Youth Continental Championships last year, Thomas went on to win gold at the Caribbean Championships in December and is now considered one of the country's rising talent.
Cecil Forde, president of the TTBA, was ecstatic with the results but said he was not surprised.
“The entire team has put in a lot of work for this event. Preparation started months ago with training camps and competitions, with our boxers training diligently and all our coaches coming together to work as a collective unit. They all contributed in one way or the other and we thank our coaches who gave their time without pay to make sure we were prepared," Forde said.
According to Forde, although the other boxers on the team didn’t qualify, they have a very good account of themselves against much more experienced counterparts. “This qualifier was just half of the journey. The training and preparation that necessary to medal at the games lie ahead. In order to prepare properly, we must get these athletes to camps, both locally and foreign, since our boxing pool is rather small."
"We are pleading with the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, SporTT and the Ministry of Finance, to not wait until the 11th hour. Give us a little space, we are well aware of the present economic situation, but we ask that whatever is afforded if given early, we would be able to achieve much more.”
The TTBA is also calling on the business community to come forward and partner with the team so that they can be as prepared as their foreign opponents.
Preparation and fundraising continue tomorrow April 13 at the Cosmic Boxing Gym, Marabella from 7 pm.