Jafet Uutoni won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games after losing the final of the 48kg Light Flyweight category 8-4 on points against Paddy Barnes of Northern Ireland. Uutoni gave a good account of himself and was by far the most aggressive boxer, but Barnes fought a good tactical fight and defended superbly. Uutoni struggled to find a way past his defence, while Barnes was quick on the counterattack and often landed blows after Uutoni had exposed himself.
Uutoni came out firing on all cylinders at the start of round one, and won the first point with a right hook. But Barnes bided his time and opened his account with some hooks in close exchanges to take a 3-1 lead.
Uutoni kept up his high work rate in the second round, landing some shots, although he also missed a lot with some wild swings. Barnes accumulated points with counterattacks in close exchanges and at the end of the second round he held a narrow 5-4 lead.
Uutoni continued to chase Barnes in the third round but Barnes’ punches were more accurate as he won three more points to win the fight 8-4 on points.
Despite losing the final, Uutoni still won a silver medal, which is Namibia’s best achievement at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Earlier, disabled athlete Johanna Benson won a bronze medal in the T37 100m, while shooter Gaby Ahrens also won a bronze medal in the individual trap competition.
Namibia only has two more competitors - the marathon runners Beata naigambo and Reinhold Iita who will compete on Thursday.
The Secretary General of the Namibia Boxing Federation, Joe Kaperu praised Uutoni for a courageous performance.
“It was technically a very good fight. Barnes was more compact in defence and good on the counterattack with the left hook. Uutoni had more speed and his movement was good, but Barnes was well prepared and was just better on the day,” he said.
Kaperu said that if Namibia’s boxing team had been better prepared, they could have won more medals.
“If we had prepared properly, there is no doubt that Uutoni would have won the gold medal, while we would have won other medals as well. The fitness levels were OK, but our boxers were not mentally prepared for a high level competition like this because they were included too late. We were lining up competitions to prepare against tough boxing nations like Angola and Kenya, but our requests were turned down due to a lack of funds. In the end we travelled to Botswana and Zambia to compete in tournaments, but we only received air tickets to Zambia, while the NBF covered our other expenses,” he said.
Kaperu said that inhouse fighting and disagreements with the Namibia Olympic Committee had led to Namibia’s poor preparation, after the NOC wanted to veto the list of officials selected by the NBF, and specifically that of their team manager Ambrosius Kandjii.
Kandjii was eventually forced out of the squad, but after he received assistance from political connections, he eventually joined up later with the team in Delhi.
“After you hand in your forms and wait for your money, the fight you have to fight for your country becomes a personality fight. All we ask for is that we receive our funds in time and that we can prepare in time. Give us the money and we will bring you the medals,” Kaperu said.