Olympic places available at Euro Qualifier

The sport’s governing body, the AIBA today reports that more than 60% of the European quota places available for the Olympic Games, to be held in London next year, have now been allocated following the 16th edition of the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The first and major qualifying event for London became the world’s biggest ever boxing competition and following the results achieved there, 19 affiliated Federations of the EUBC are now able to fully prepare for the London Games. The most successful nations in Baku were Russia, Ukraine and Italy with each achieving six qualification places while the host nation Azerbaijan gained four places along with the one which Migitinov booked following his performances in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Individual Championships.

There is a very interesting situation in the Flyweight category with England’s Khalid Yafai and Welshman Andrew Selby both advancing to the quarter-finals in Baku but with only one of them able to represent Great Britain at the London Olympic Games. They will now fight in a three-legged ‘box-off’ to determine who gets the chance to compete on the biggest stage of all. Parts one and two take place this weekend at the GB Championships in London’s York Hall. Bout three will only be required if the score is one all at the end of Saturday’s second ‘leg’.

Surprisingly the established boxing nations of Turkey, Georgia, Poland, Croatia, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Slovakia, Denmark, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Finland have not yet secured any Olympic quota places. However they will get one last chance to do so at the European Qualification Tournament to be held in Istanbul in April 2012. The Turkish boxers will be able to count on the local support when they take to the ring whilst Russia and Ukraine could earn themselves a maximum ten places if their results are favourable.

The Asian fighters also showcased their excellent boxing skills in Baku and secured 29 out of the 56 Olympic quotas places available for the region, eleven nations acquired at least one. Asia’s leading boxing country was Kazakhstan who booked itself six places, whilst India and Uzbekistan both have four. China and Thailand also achieved three quota places each following the AIBA World Championships.

Among the ASBC’s powerful boxing nations, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, Syria, Chinese Taipei, North Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Iraq, Vietnam, Qatar, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan have not yet achieved any tickets for London, but Olympic dreams are still alive with the Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament still to be held in Astana at the beginning of April next year.

Boxers from the American continent achieved three gold medals in Baku and with them a total of 14 qualification places in Baku, however only four nations shared this number with Cuba, Brazil, USA and Colombia all excelling. Other recognised boxing nations in the region, such as Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, Dominican Republic, Argentina and Venezuela went home without any quota places. The American continent still has 38 quota places available for London and the qualification event will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in May 2012.

The All Africa Games were held just before the AIBA World Championships and as a result some of the region’s nations did not take part in Baku. Several boxers injured themselves in Maputo and could not travel to the Azeri capital. Mohamed Amine Oudahi of Algeria achieved his qualification for London in the Bantamweight category and became the only African boxer to do so in Baku, joining his compatriot and friend Abdelhafid Benchebla who secured his place by winning the WSB Individual Championships in the Light Heavyweight category. Africa now has 48 places still available for the Olympics and the remaining qualifying tournament takes place in Casablanca, Morocco late April next year.

Four developing nations of boxing represented the Oceania region at the 16th AIBA World Boxing Championships. Representing Australia was 19-year-old Youth Olympic Games winner Damien Hooper who booked his dream ticket to London in Baku, a fantastic result considering Australian boxers did not have a representative in that division at the Beijing Olympic Games. Nine places are still up for grabs at the Oceania Olympic Qualification Tournament to be held in Canberra in March 2012.

Of great interest to fans of the amateur sport in Ireland is how our own boxers will fare in Turkey at the final European Qualifier. So far, we have three boxers ‘guaranteed’ a place in London – Darren O’Neill, Michael Conlan and John Joe Nevin, who all qualified for the 2012 Olympics at the AIBA World Championships in Baku last month. Hopes are high that several others may achieve similar status in the Turkish qualifier – though competition will be severe for such as Joe Ward, Ray Moylette, Kenny Egan and Paddy Barnes. The original target for the IABA was to get three places in London this has been achieved – but realistically one hopes for at least another two,maybe three.


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