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Neriman Istik stars on opening day of European qualifiers in Samsun
by Michael O'Neill
April 10,  2016

(APR 10)  The 2016 EUBC/AIBA European Olympic qualifiers opened in Samsun, Turkey on Saturday and with few surprises in the preliminary rounds of either the male or female tournaments.

Photo: courtesy EUBC Boxing Confederation

After the general weigh-in, official draw and opening ceremony, the first bouts of the competition got underway in Samsun with 207 men competing for 30 quota places and 56 women chasing 6 available Olympic berths.

Saturday saw twenty preliminary contests between the Women’s Flyweight (51kg), Women’s Lightweight (60kg), Men’s Flyweight (52kg), Men’s Light Welterweight (64kg), Men’s Heavyweight (91kg) and Men’s Super-Heavyweight (+91kg) boxers, and it was the Turkish and Irish teams that made the biggest impression early on.

Courtesy photo: AIBA

For the Irish Dean Walsh and Dean Gardiner were winners on day one, the three Irish women (Ceire Smith, Katie Taylor and Christina Desmond) are in action on Monday Night.

There was however disappointment for Poland’s Sandra Drabik in the 51kg division, one of the three Olympic weights for women. Only a top two (final) place here guarantees a quota slot for Rio and the experienced Polish fighter exited the tournament in the preliminary round, somewhat surprisingly going under 2:0 to the host nation’s Neriman Istik.

Armenia’s AIBA Youth World Champion and elite-level newcomer (also 51kg) Anush Grigoryan controlled her tie against the Greek boxer Antonia Papoutsaki. Sweden’s AIBA Women’s Youth Lightweight World Champion Agnes Alexiusson was also able to dominate her opening (60kg) match against Serbia’s Milena Matovic.

“I felt in good shape during the bout and I had fun. The first contest is always a bit nervy in a big tournament, especially one like the AIBA European Olympic Qualification Event, but this was only the first step and I know I have to do more in the upcoming contests to accomplish my goal,” said Alexiusson, who has been one of the most successful women’s youth and junior boxers of recent years.

Great Britain’s lightweight star Chantelle Cameron suffered a big Olympic setback as she lost out to Azerbaijan’s AIBA Women’s World silver medallist Yana Alekseevna in the preliminary round, before Russia’s Anastasiia Beliakova marked her return to the national squad at lightweight by defeating Ukraine’s tough Iuliaa Tsyplakova. Beliakova succeeds Sofya Ochigava as the Russian entrant at 60 kg and could prove a real threat being the AIBA 64kg world champion in Jeju.

Alekseevna is arguably likely to pose the greatest threat to Ireland’s Katie Taylor in this tournament though the Russian, Beliakova and the French champion and no.2 seed Mosselly are also likely to be ‘there or thereabouts’ when the women’s finals take place on Sunday next.

First though Taylor has to beat the Czech Republic titleholder, Martina Schmoranzova a 3:0 winner over Germany’s Tasheena Bugar Saturday. The other Irish women

are Ceire Smith at 51kg who defeated World champion Marlen Esparza in Warsaw late last year and at 75kg Cork’s Christina Desmond who has a mammoth task to overcome the World no 3 and no 1 seed here, Noucha Fontijn of the Netherlands, in Samsun.

With Chantelle Cameron out of the competition GB’s hopes now rest with Olympic Gold medallist Nicola Adams and with Hartlepools Savannah Marshall in the 75kg division. It should be stressed though that boxers do not finish in the top two in Samsun will have a final opportunity of qualifying for Rio at the 2016 AIBA World championships in Astana in May.

Day 1 results courtesy of Strefa Poland Boxing are here: http://amateur-boxing.strefa.pl/Championships/EuroOlyQual2016.html

Day 1 results weight by weight and Day 2 program here: http://www.aiba.org/european-olympic-qualification-tournament/


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