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Russian and Bulgaria dominate Europeans in Sofia
by Michael O'Neill
December 1, 2016

(DEC 1) The 2016 European Women’s Elite Championships took place earlier this month at the Sport Hall in Sofia and though there were some interesting newcomers who showed future promise, there were also some strange (by any standards) decisions by the Judges whilst above all the standard of boxing was not as good as expected though that could arguably have been foreseen due to the absence of such as World and Olympic champions like Estelle Mossely and Nicola Adams not to mention the recently turned Pro Katie Taylor and top Italian, Irma Testa as well as Savannah Marshall and Nouchka Fontijn among the welterweights.

Nick Butler of the excellent “Inside the Games” website had this to report on the main highlights of the week:

“Bulgaria's Denitsa Eliseeva delighted the crowd with featherweight gold as the European Boxing Confederation (EUBC) European Women’s Boxing Championships closed in Sofia with three home victories.

Russia claimed four gold medals while Azerbaijan, England and Turkey added one each.

Eliseeva triumphed in the under-57 kilograms division with a 2-1 split decision over Turkish opponent Sati Burcu.

It added to a successful year in which she also claimed a bronze medal at the World Championships in Astana.

Team-mate Sevda Asenova secured gold in the opening bout of finals day in the under-48kg event with a 3-0 success over Lise Sandebjer of Sweden.

Bulgaria's golden treble also included an under-54kg win for Stanimira Petrova over Azerbaijan's Anna Alimardanova, also by an unanimous 3-0 margin.

Russia's four golds were won by flyweight Sevda Asenova, lightweight Daria Abramova, light welterweight Aleksandra Ordina and heavyweight Zenfira Magomedalieva.

All four won by a 3-0 margin.

Saveleva beat Ukraine's Tetyana Kob while Abramova overcame Finland's Mira Potkonen.

Ordina beat Rosie Eccles of Wales while Magomedalieva defeated Sylwia Kusiak of Poland.

Other gold medals were secured by Elena Vystropova of Azerbaijan, who beat Turkey's Sama Galiskan 2-0 in the under 69kg event and by

Turkey's Elif Guneri who won the under-81kg event after beating Hungary's Petra Szatmari, 3-0.” (Our thanks to ‘Inside the Games’)

For England it was a very successful tournament bearing in mind that none of Nicola Adams (turning Pro), Savannah Marshall (resting following shoulder problems) and Stacey Copeland (still recovering after surgery that went wrong) were all missing but their ‘deputies’ excelled.

Natasha Gale defeated Maily Nicar of France to win the EUBC Women’s 69kg Elite title, as we saw via the Live Streaming coverage of this year’s Championships (see link)

Boxing in the England vest, the 28-year-old from Leeds secured a unanimous victory to become European Champion in her first appearance at a major championship.

It emulated the achievement of Nicola Adams who is the only other woman from Great Britain to win the European Boxing Championship, having won the title in Rotterdam in 2011.

Gale said: “It has been a fantastic experience here with the team. I have enjoyed it so much and to win the gold is just amazing. It makes all of the hard work and sacrifice worth it.

“To be European Champion this early in my career is incredible; I am still learning and am so excited for what is still to come.”

Gale’s gold capped a very successful tournament for GB Boxing which saw three of its four boxers return home with a medal.

All three came in the Olympic weight classes as Lisa Whiteside and Sandy Ryan took bronze at flyweight and lightweight respectively to go with Gale’s gold.

It means in the Rio Olympic cycle, women from the GB Boxing squad have won 11 medals at 6 major international tournaments, including the Olympic Games.

GB Boxing’s Performance Director, Rob McCracken said: “Natasha has done brilliantly and to win the European Championship in her first major tournament is a great achievement. She listened to the coaches and stuck to the tactics and has got her reward.

“Winning three medals is a very good performance by the whole team and augurs well for the future of the world class performance programme as we head into the Tokyo cycle. To win a medal in each of the Olympic weight classes, when we have not brought any of our Rio boxers to this tournament, is a superb achievement and a sign of the strength in depth we are developing in the women’s boxing programme.”

The team from Wales, also achieve some fantastic results and returned to the Principality with two medals.

Rosie Eccles reached the final and came away with a silver, Lauren Price collected a bronze and Lynsey Holdaway reached the Quarter Finals, indeed many believed her performance was such that she should have qualified for the semi-finals but as often in this competition boxers from eastern Europe and particularly a host nation do seem to be getting results which often seem to favour them. Some pretty strange results overall in Sofia and not a tournament that will be well remembered in years to come other than by the Bulgarians.

It was a pretty mixed week for Ireland, for whom Katie Taylor had won 6 Golds in previous years’ championships though they did come away with a bronze medal courtesy of Cill na Martra’s Christina Desmond

who was extremely unlucky to have been deemed the loser in her semi-final bout against Maily Nicar of France. Even the French coaches apologised to their Irish counterparts since they too like the Irish management had felt that Desmond had won with something to spare.

World silver medallist Kellie Harrington was another who had suffered a dubious decision at the hands of the eventual Russian champion Ordina but there were some fine , promising performances from Grainne Walsh, Moira McElligott and Shauna O’Keeffe. Donna Barr had to withdraw due to injury before the tournament began whilst as always Dervla Duffy gave of her all though defeated in her preliminary.

The event itself was well organised by the host nation but the attendance on most days was pretty meagre (especially when no Bulgarians in action) and the media coverage via both AIBA and EUBC was, to put it mildly ‘ very disappointing’.

Results services were ‘hit or miss’ – sometimes fast, usually slow and whilst the Live Streaming was excellent quality it often ‘failed’ and EUBC’s staff were receiving scores of messages via social media point out that their link was not working.

It seems to be a priority these days by both organisations to provide extensive coverage of such as “ meetings” especially with Government officials in any host nation and thus it does seem to most that they have forgotten that there is a general boxing public and European media who want reports and results “today” and NOT “manana” or next week and not just profiles of AIBA,EUBC or visiting dignitaries be stowing honours on AIBA officials.

Another example of this being that only selected news agencies were made aware that India’s Mary Kom was to be made an AIBA “legend” and deservedly so yet apart from agencies in India and other Asian countries, no one in Europe for example nor in the Americas received such a Press Release. Indeed that Press Release has not even yet appeared on AIBA’s own website.

The fact remains also that there was not even a farewell “Good luck” message from the Lausanne based organisation when Claressa Shields and Katie Taylor two of their poster girls for many years, turned Pro. How ungrateful can they be when they ignore two such great servants of women’s boxing who together with Adams (soon to turn Pro) did so much great Ambassadorial work for the AIBA in gaining worldwide media coverage.

This is something hopefully they will rectify sooner rather than later. Compare that with say USA Boxing who certainly praised Shields contribution and the IABA’s Bernard O’Neill and Pat Ryan who offered their organisation’s grateful thanks for all Taylor had done and again after her Pro debut victory over Karina Kopinska at the weekend.

The individual communications staff at AIBA/EUBC are very helpful but it seems to many in the European media that they are not adequately briefed by AIBA’s “top management” who admittedly have perhaps even greater concerns when one takes into account the events in and out of the ring in Rio, the PwC financial investigation, other financial issues and the suspension of 36 Referees and Judges following Rio.

Hopefully there will be an improvement in near future and boxers, coaches, and the media can all receive the service that the public expects from a major Sporting organisation,

The Finals: Results and Medallists: http://www.eubcboxing.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/C74F.CP_.pdf

ALL the finals here via Bulgarian Boxing Federation/You Tube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz4a6EWZEdk

ALL the week’s results here via Strefa Poland Boxing : http://www.amateur-boxing.strefa.pl/Championships/European_wom_Champs2016.html

Mary Kom ‘Legends’ award: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/sport-others/mary-kom-to-receive-legends-award-from-aiba-4395292/

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