Two medals in Canberra !


Against the background of six months excellent preparation in Crewe, North-West England, the two I-Kiribati boxers have been competing in the Oceania Olympic Boxing Qualifying Tournament at the Australian Institute of Sport (A.I.S.) in Canberra.   They were accompanied by their Team Manager, Derek Andrewartha, who has been a prime mover and promoter of Kiribati Boxing for the past decade.

In his Heavyweight quarter-final contest last week, Tarieta Ruata used his speed to win a close contest with a Samoan fighter over three rounds, by 12 points to 10.    This brought him to a semi-final with a New Zealander who had a significant weight advantage.   The heavier weight of punch eventually resulted, in the second round, with Tarieta sustaining two 8-counts and the referee stopped the contest.   Nevertheless, to win a bronze medal at Oceania level was an outstanding performance.   It is a pity that, at the age of 32, Tarieta will not be able to represent Kiribati in the ring in future Games.    However, his contribution and example, together with his coaching experience and expertise, will inevitably work to the benefit of Boxing in Kiribati.


Andrew Kometa, boxing at Middleweight, was given a bye in the quarter-finals.   This put him against a New Zealand-based Tongan in the semis.   He started slowly and was behind at the end of the first round.   However, he used his speed, skill, and greater fitness to out-last his opponent, ending as a clear points winner by 17-8.   In the final, he was confronted by an experienced Australian boxer and lost on points by 7-17.   At the age of 23, he has won an Oceania silver medal and has plenty of years and opportunities to box again for Kiribati.   His next chance is likely to come in the Commonwealth Games, due to be held in Glasgow, U.K., in 2014.   In the interim, he will be a hero and role model for the grass roots boxers in Kiribati.


Without doubt, the grant-aid which paid for the two boxers to train in U.K. was an investment for the future of Boxing in Kiribati.   It will inspire all concerned to enable an increasing number of young people, currently training on the islands on sand and in a ring created from four conveniently-placed coconut trees, to dream of travelling overseas and competing for their country.

It is worth observing that Australia won all the nine gold medals at this Tournament in Canberra and thus will be the only Oceania country participating in the London Olympic Boxing !


The images show Tarieta (in a cap) and Andrew soon after their arrival in Crewe, U.K.; Andrew in dance costume at the Dance Farewell staged for them in Crewe at the end of their training this month; and both boxers with Derek Andrewartha also at the Dance Farewell.

DL   25/03/12


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