Hail our Olympians
Over an amazing 16 days in Tokyo the medal haul of Team GB was significantly enhanced by the performance of our boxing team. The return of 6 medals (2 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze) from the 11 strong team surpassed all since the 1920 Olympics. Much of this is down to lottery funding and the now firmly established Institute of Sport in Sheffield, but more so to the dedication, resilience and individual performances of all involved.
Over the unprecedented five year cycle between Olympics and continual uncertainties caused by the coronavirus pandemic our boxers have kept their focus and delivered when it mattered. The consecutive golds won by Birmingham flyweight Galal Yafai and Welsh middleweight Lauren Price over the weekend were the icing on the cake for a spectacular team effort, ably captained by super-heavyweight bronze medalist Frazer Clarke.
The roll call of team performance reads:
Frazer Clark – super heavyweight – weight class 91+kg – bronze
Cheavon Clarke – heavyweight (91kg) – eliminated in second phase
Ben Whittaker – light-heavyweight (81kg) – silver
Lauren Price – middleweight (75kg) – gold
Pat McCormack – welterweight (69kg) – silver
Luke McCormack – lightweight (63kg) eliminated in first phase
Caroline Dubois – lightweight (60kg) – eliminated in quarter finals
Peter McGrail – featherweight (57kg) – eliminated in first phase
Karriss Artingstall – featherweight (57kg) – bronze
Galal Yafai – flyweight (52kg) – gold
Charley Davison – flyweight (51kg)- eliminated in second phase
This return was exceptional and those eliminated early ably supported their fellow team members to success.
The whole boxing tournament was a resounding highlight and success of the games. Refereeing was competent and consistent with very few controversial decisions, a rarity for Olympic competition. Only Frazer Clarke’s defeat of his French opponent in the quarter final on a disqualification and Karriss Artingstall’s loss to her Japanese challenger at the same stage had any whiff of controversy affecting British fighters. Across all weights the contests and results were highly competitive and fair.
The Cubans as usual excelled, taking 4 of the 8 medals available in the male classifications. Rio 2016 champions Arlen Lopez and Julio Cesar La Cruz stepped up in weight to gain a second Olympic gold. The US performed well with 3 silvers in Richard Lopez Jr (super heavyweight), Keyshawn Davis (lightweight) and Duke Regan (featherweight) and these will surely now turn professional with great expectation. Another highlight was Irish lightweight Kellie Anne Harrington winning gold.
Knockout of the tournament was Herbert Sousa’s come from behind left hook that floored Ukrainian middleweight Oleksandr Khyzhniak in the final minute of their gold medal contest. Seemingly destined for silver, Brazilian Sousa turned the fight around emphatically. Try to catch it on various re-runs. Spectacular it was.
Going back to Team GB, our two final losses were to exceptional Cubans Arlen Lopez and Roniel Iglesias, so no shame there. Ben Whittaker emerged as one of the characters of the games with his confidence and fan friendly persona. His desire to be Mayor of Wolverhampton drew much amusement. He will surely now turn professional and be a welcome addition.
Final word must go to our new Olympic champions – Lauren Price and Galal Yafai. They were both exceptional throughout the competition and worthy winners. Despite all the obstacles over the last 18 months they seized the moment and have firmly put British amateur boxing at the top of the tree.
Congratulations to all in Team GB Boxing.