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Austeja Auciute on the trail of Olympic Gold
by Michael O'Neill
February 7, 2016

(FEB 7) Austeja Auciute is a name that will be familiar to many though not all WBAN readers. For several years now she has been one of the mainstays of the Irish Women’s Youth and Junior teams, in World, European and major Club tournaments far from her Stranorlar home base of Finn Valley ABC in County Donegal. Now she is the 2016 Lithuanian national champion at 60kg Lightweight.

She is seeking to extend her International career, not with Ireland but representing her native Lithuania. How I asked Austeja did this come about? Hers is an extraordinary story, as she has had to leave behind both family and friends in Donegal and a host of admirers throughout Ireland. Her parents had moved from Lithuania to Donegal many years ago.

From Lithuania, Austeja tells us more of her life to date and the sacrifices she has had to make in following her dream:

“I was in the process of getting my Irish passport,but while on holidays in Lithuania I did a bit of training in the local boxing gym,which is run by 3 star coach Vincas Murauskas in Silute. I enjoyed the experience, so I was invited down for the Senior Championships which were held last week and where I was crowned champion.

Since the AIBA world championships in 2011, I was turned down from going on any international trips,because I didn’t have an Irish passport, as my application for citizenship was and still is ‘in progress’.

This was hard to take every time because I had trained very hard every year for my IABA National Championships and won them,to get on the Irish team. Getting the Irish citizenship was a long process and I was willing to go through with it last year,because I needed to get away Internationally, to keep getting better in my sport”. She fully understands that she could not be selected for Irish international squads without being in possession of a valid Passport.

Once I was offered an opportunity to box here, I took it. It took a while – and a lot of ‘soul searching’ to make the right decision for myself, because I had to sacrifice so much to come here. Leaving in Ireland my family and friends and the club that I grew up in, going to a place where I knew nobody and to live on my own.

It was the toughest decision of my career so far at a young age. But this was all so I could continue ‘chasing my dreams’. No matter where I am I will always have the same goal. That’s boxing, you have to do what is best for you.”

Austeja, you picked up that first Lithuanian title last week, what’s next?

“I hope to be on the team to the upcoming World Championships which are held in May, boxing for Lithuania. It would be a great honour to box for both countries, but one can’t get a dual citizenship yet.

It has not been finalised yet. My Mother and Father were both born here,as was I, so it was a proud day for me and my family and would have been for my Father who passed away a few years ago.

Standing on that podium as number one in this country was the ‘greatest feeling’ of my career so far. At the moment I am not working, as am concentrating full time on boxing until after the World Championships . I had done courses back in Ireland aiming at being a Security officer and hope to be working in the Security Industry as soon as everything is over.”

You grew up in Ireland Austeja,how are you coping in a new environment?

“I miss Ireland very much. It is where I was raised. My friends ,the club I grew up in and my family are based there. I miss everyone so much. I met a lot of people through boxing in Ireland, so it was a massive decision to come and box here.

I was very proud when wearing the Irish gear and representing Ireland at all the competitions I went to over several years. But the end of the day, boxing is my life, it’s all I know from a very young age, so you have to keep chasing your dreams, no matter where you are and no matter how hard it’s going to be.

Boxing out of the Finn Valley Boxing Club I had won 9 All Ireland titles, an AIBA Junior World Bronze medal at the World Championships in Turkey in 2011. I had also won the Multi Nations tournament Gold in Finland and a Multi Nations Silver in Denmark.

I will keep in touch with everyone back home in Donegal and hope to be back soon for a visit. That’s a promise ”.

Austeja is to be greatly admired for ‘following her dream’ and who knows one day she may even improve upon the Silver medal that her close friend and clubmate Jason Quigley gained in the AIBA World Elites shortly before turning Pro.

The Quigley family have long been associated with Finn Valley and indeed it was at that club than the then even young Austeja was ringing the bell every evening in her early days at the club, summer and winter, after schoolwork was out of the way.

One other possibility that young Austeja, now 20, is aware of and that is that among her opponents at the World’s in Kazakhstan in May could well be a familiar face from Irish boxing, one Katie Taylor.

Now that would be some experience for the Ballybofey woman who when she was 17 was asked by Donegal News if she was looking forward to a future clash with the Olympic Gold medallist?

Whilst expressing her admiration for all the Bray woman had achieved, she said then:

“I don’t really look up to her.

“I just want to be Austeja. That’s it.

“If I had to beat her, then I’d give that a go, for sure.

“If I go into Seniors and she’s still around then I’d be in the same weight as her. I’d be looking to beat her if I got that far. It’ll take a couple of years and a lot more experience before I can get to that level though.”

WBAN wishes ‘Gold Luck’to Austeja and though 2016 may be too soon for World or Olympic glory don’t bet against her taking other titles at home and overseas in the next year or two and perhaps in 2020 at the Tokyo Olympics.

Unlikely that Katie will be around by then – or will she?

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