(APR 5) Ireland’s three
female competitors at the European Olympic qualifier in Samsun,
Turkey are today finishing their intensive pre-tournament
training camp in Assisi, Italy before moving on to the Black Sea
port later in the week.
Some familiar faces will be
taking part once more though among those ‘missing’ will be
Russia’s Sofia Ochigava no longer their 60kg representative.
That role now falls to reigning AIBA World 64kg champion
Anastasia Beliakova in the absence of Ochigava who has never
fully recovered from injuries sustained in previous competitions
despite trying so hard to recover the form she showed so often
in those stirring battles of yesteryear with Irish ‘friend and
foe’ Katie Taylor.
A total of 233 men and 59 women, representing 39 European
nations, will be chasing 36 qualification spots for the Rio 2016
Olympic Games (six for women, 30 for men) during the 10 days of
competition at the AIBA European Olympic Qualification Event,
held in Samsun, Turkey 9-17 April.
A host of boxing’s biggest stars – including London 2012 Olympic
Games gold medallists Katie Taylor (IRE) and Nicola Adams (GBR)
and 2011 and 2013 AIBA World Boxing super heavyweight champion
Mahammadrasul Majidov (AZE), 2015 EUBC European Confederation
Boxing Champion Eimantas Stanionis (LIT), APB Turkish top boxers
Adem Kilicci and Onur Sipal and German WSB boxer Baku 2015
European Games bronze medallist Hamza Touba and APB boxer Serge
Michel – will be stepping in to the ring in Samsun in pursuit of
one of the sport’s most sought after prizes.
There are 10 weight categories for men, ranging from light
flyweight up to super heavyweight. The two finalists from each
division will receive a quota spot for the Rio 2016 Games, while
the two losing semi-finalists will take part in a box-off for
the third and final qualification place.
The women, yet again, will compete only in three weight
categories; flyweight, lightweight and middleweight. The two
finalists in each class will win a quota at the coming Olympic
In the women’s draw, despite strong competition, no name stands
out quite so brightly as Katie Taylor. Ireland’s lightweight
star is the reigning Olympic, World and European champion,
unbeaten in all competition since 2011 and widely considered to
be the best ‘pound-for-pound’ female boxer on the planet.
While Taylor starts as favourite in the lightweight class,
Adams, the London 2012 flyweight champion, is the one to watch
in her division and Dutch star Nouchka Fontijn takes the honours
in the middleweight category.
Seven other AIBA Women’s World Boxing champions also line up:
two-time champion Anna Laurell of Sweden (middleweight),
Savannah Marshall of Great Britain (middleweight), Elena
Saveleva of Russia (flyweight), Anastasia Beliakova of Russia
(middleweight), Maria Badulina-Bova of Ukraine (middleweight),
Gulsum Tatar of Turkey (lightweight) and Stanimira Petrova of
Turkey’s Tatar, on home soil, is worthy of note for she missed
much of last season and is one of the few boxers who have
No Natasha Jonas for Britain either since she has retired and is
replaced by Chantelle Cameron who given a favourable draw could
medal here. There has been a late change to Team Ireland as
Commonwealth Games silver medallist Michaela Walsh from the Holy
Family club in Belfast has had to withdraw and is replaced by
Cavan’s Ceire Smith.
Ireland are fortunate to have such an able deputy since the
Cavan woman is very experienced in major international
competition and has with Taylor, represented Ireland in major
championships in recent years.
Joe Ward, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan, who are also training
in Assisi, have already qualified for Rio 2016.
If Cork middleweight Christina Desmond, books a ticket for Rio,
she’ll become, along with Ward, one of only two Irish boxers to
represent their country at both the Youth Olympics and Olympics.
Ward, a World Youth gold medallist, lined out at the 2010 Youth
Olympics in Singapore, and Desmond, a World Youth silver
medallist, at the 2014 Youth Olympics in China.
Irish squad European Olympic qualifiers Samsun, Turkey April
9th/17th - Boxing begins Saturday at the Mustafa Dagýstanlý
kapalý spor salonu in downtown Samsun.
51kg Ceire Smith (Cavan BC)
60kg Katie Taylor (Bray BC)
75kg Christina Desmond (Fr Horgan’s, Cork)
52kg Brendan Irvine (St Paul’s)
60kg David Oliver Joyce (AIBA Pro Boxing)
64kg Dean Walsh (St Joseph’s/St Ibars)
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Portlaoise)
91kg Darren O’Neill (Paulstown)
91+kg Dean Gardiner (Clonmel)
Team Manager: Joe Hennigan
Coaches: Zaur Antia, Eddie Bolger, John Conlan
Olympic Games Qualification system: