Local Olympian wants gold for Haiti

Team Hitchins: Hitchins, left, poses with his boxing coach, Aureliano Sosa, before a training session at Flatbush Gardens gym in East Flatbush.
Community News Group / Alexandra Simon

A local Olympian is heading to Rio with his eyes set on gold.

Crown Heights teen Richardson ‘Africa’ Hitchins, will represent Haiti at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next month. The ambitious teen is looking forward to participating in the huge sports event. The teen was stunned when he learned he was an Olympian.

“It hit me the second day I was qualified,” said Hitchins. “I’m just excited, I can’t wait to perform for my country,” said Hitchins.

Hitchins almost gave up on his Olympic dream after losing the chance to represent for United States in the qualifying trial. The disappointment almost made Hitchins reconsider his interest in boxing and he was prepared to try for professional boxing.

“I was already done, and mentally I was out of of it,” said Hitchins. “I was at a low point, where I was done with amatuer boxing.”

The loss did not prevail over him. After losing his opportunity to represent United States, Hitchins was offered a spot to compete in boxing for Haiti, his parents native country.

Further luck found Hitchins when welterweight boxer Andre Berto offered to fund his expenses for the Olympic qualifiers in Baku, Azerbaijan. Hitchins placed second in those qualifiers, out of 180 competitors. His coach was thrilled as Hitchins gradually moved up in the competition.

“I would be sleeping and I would wake up and see his texts — I was like wow, am I dreaming?,” said Aureliano Sosa, Hitchins’ coach at Atlas Cops and Kids Gym in Flatbush Gardens.

“I had Africa since he was 12 — he’s a great kid. He definitely deserves it,” said Sosa.

Sosa and Hitchins want nothing short of a gold medal coming back something he knows is achievable.

“Nobody can tell me what I can and cannot do. So the gold medal, in my head — is already mine,” said Hitchins.

Hitchins will leave Haiti in late July and boxing tournaments for the Olympics begin Aug. 12.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.

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