AIBA confirms Olympic seeding and has
an exclusive interview with Katie Taylor
by Michael O'Neill
June 1, 2012
Photo: Katie Taylor
(JUNE 1) The AIBA have re-confirmed that there will be but 2 seeded
boxers in each of the three Women’s weight divisions at the 30th
Olympiad in London later this Summer.
49-51kg : Flyweight:
1. Cancan Ren (China)
2. Nicola Adams (GB)
1. Katie Taylor (Ireland)
2. Sofya Ochigava (Russia)
1. Savannah Marshall (GB)
2. Elena Vystropova (Azerbaijan)
No surprises there of course as these are the champions and
runners-up from the recent 7th AIBA Women’s World Championships
in Qinhuangdao, China.
The AIBA’s Tripartite Commission committee is scheduled to meet
Sunday 3 June – a meeting which will decide the Olympic ‘fate’
of some of the world’s leading amateurs who have trained for
years with the dream of taking part in this first historic
Olympic Games tournament that will feature women, albeit only in
three weight divisions. The long wait goes on for those who did
not automatically qualify via the world championships.
Those hoping to get one of the elusive ‘wildcard’ Tripartite
places include such as Canada’s Mary Spencer, Queen Underwood
from the United States and Turkey’s two times world Champion
Gulsum Tatar. Also some come from the ‘weaker’ nations where the
AIBA is trying to encourage more women to participate in the
sport, a good example being Afghanistan’s 18 years old, Sadaf
Rahimi in the flyweight category.
Only a few weeks back, Sadaf seemed certain to gain one of the
wildcards, now she – and we - must simply “wait and see” for we
saw at the recent world’s that brave though the Afghanistani
boxers are, they are way, way behind the best of the rest of the
world. Not one of the three in China lasted a full round with
Sadaf’s fight against Poland’s Sandra Drabik lasting just 26
The AIBA commission must indeed consider the long term benefits
of including boxers from such countries as Afghanistan but at
the same time take due note of the huge risks involved if any “
hopelessly outclassed” boxer should suffer serious injury, with
the eyes of the world on women's boxing and millions watching
round the world, many of whom sadly still have great difficulty
coming to terms with the fact that the I.O.C have finally
granted the sport its rightful place in the Olympics.
For this writer the solution is obvious – the AIBA should – and
most probably will - provide further funding and more training
camps (like their recent one in Cardiff) for the Afghanistan
boxers – others too of course from weaker nations – and
hopefully invite Sadaf Rahimi , her colleagues and their
trainer, as special guests of the AIBA and I.O.C in London and
with the aim of ensuring that they are up to the required
international standards in good time for Rio 2016 . Sadaf will
be much more experienced at 22 but London 2012 ? – no,
definitely not for it is a risk too great, too soon for her and
for the sport she loves.
After the worlds in Qinhuangdao, AIBA President Dr Ching Kuo-Wu
sensibly commented : “Safety is the number one concern in
women’s boxing and we will make this clear to the International
Olympic Committee (IOC) Tripartite Commission when we meet to
decide who shall benefit from the wildcards.”
We can but hope the Tripartite Commission agrees.
As things stand there are 4 such Tripartite places available in
the 60kg and 75kg categories but only 3 at 49-51kg where nine of
the twelve slots have already been filled. So when will we know
the outcome of that meeting on 3 June? And how many of the
invitation places will go to “weaker nations”?, a question I
posed to the AIBA this week.
We will know, I was informed “in the first half of June” . My
own view here is that this announcement will come on or about
As to who will get those coveted places, the AIBA again : “a few
spots will go to best losers of the world championships and the
rest will go to the universality”.
It would be a brave (or foolish) reporter who attempted to
‘second guess’ what the Commission might decide so let us hear
what others are saying and doing right now.
Ireland’s four times world champion Katie Taylor believes that
the invitation places ‘ should be given to the very best
competitors in all weight classes so that the world can see in
London just how good women’s boxing really is’.
“Hopefully they make the right decisions when handing out those
wildcards. We need to showcase women’s boxing” , she concluded.
Taylor specifically mentioned Canada’s Spencer, as well as her
‘old adversaries’ Underwood, Tatar and China’s Cheng Dong, among
those she felt ought to be invited.
As for Mary Spencer, the Canadian is ensuring that she remains
in top class condition should she receive the call . In a recent
Twitter post she optimistically said : “I’m not waiting to hear
about a wild card…I’m training for the Olympics!!!” Another in
support of the Canadian is the new 75kg World Champion, GB’s
Savannah Marshall who when talking about potential threats in
London said she hoped that Spencer would be there as ‘ she is
the best boxer in the World’ at 75kg.
So who will get those places? My own view is that these will
indeed go to such as Spencer, Underwood, Cheng Dong, and
Sweden’s Anna Laurell (75kg), and possibly Turkey’s Tatar though
the latter could be in doubt if the AIBA feel that there are
more than enough Europeans already qualified in that 60kg
division . That would be a shame for few have done as much for
women’s boxing but sadly there will be “casualties” as there are
simply not enough wildcards available ‘
Meantime, the AIBA has just published an exclusive interview
with Katie Taylor, which we bring you here, courtesy of aiba.org
“Recently crowned four-time World Champion and leading light in
women's boxing, 26-year-old Katie Taylor from Ireland has long
been the reference in terms of technique and quality in the
Lightweight division. The 170cm tall, 5ft7in, orthodox fighter
from Bray, County Wicklow, just south of Dublin, who took up
boxing at the age of twelve, has won all before her since she
came to prominence on the international stage in 2005 at the
European Championships in Norway.
A truly dedicated athlete, who has also represented the Irish
national football team, Taylor seeks perfection in whatever she
does. She is an example for all to follow and is on the fast
track to becoming a boxing legend. We were keen to know more.
A four-time World Champion, how does it feel?
“It feels amazing! It was a really special competition given
that it was the only qualifier for the Olympic Games. It was
great to qualify but it was also a fantastic feeling to retain
my world title”.
Tell us about the experience in Qinhuangdao and your
relationship with the other competitors.
“I am so focused during competition time that I often do not
realise where I am. For me it was just another place and another
competition. When I am in the zone, nothing else matters, I am
purely concentrated on the job at hand. In retrospect, it was a
remarkable experience for me personally. As far as the other
competitors are concerned, we are all friends when the
competition is over”.
How has the reaction to your success been back in Ireland?
“It has been pretty ‘full on’ between press conferences and
various media interviews, there has been so much attention
lavished on me. I was paraded through my home town on an open
top bus. The support of the Irish people has been great.
Everyone I meet wishes me well, they are all excited about the
Olympic Games being so close in London”.
You took home the best boxer trophy from China, which is quite
an achievement; do you think you have reached the peak of
“Taking that trophy proved that if you work hard you get
results. However I always believe that there is still room for
improvement, there is always things you can work on. I can still
develop, get stronger, faster, I take nothing for granted. You
must always strive to better yourself”.
What boxers impressed you the most at the World Championships
“I was really impressed with the level of all of the boxers in
China, it is great to see the improvements that have been made
and how far the sport has come in such a short space of time.
The girls have become physically stronger and more technical and
tactically astute. I am sure that people will be blown away in
London. I cannot however give you one boxer that really
impressed me more that another”.
You are now firm favourite for gold in London, how do you deal
with the pressure?
“It would be a bit foolish talking about medals for me now.
There is pressure because in Ireland people know who I am and
with my status comes expectations. I have a very specific
mind-set; I deal with every competition in the same way: one
fight at a time”.
Women's boxing at the Olympic Games, what impact do you think
this will have on the sport?
“The Olympic Games will have a huge impact on the sport; there
is absolutely no doubt about that. This is the biggest stage of
all, the whole world will be watching and people will be amazed
by the standard of women's boxing.
Boxing is the best sport in the world, the hardest; the training
ensures boxers are amongst the fittest people on the planet.
With women's boxing making its debut in London, there will be a
whole new generation of fans who will want to take part”.
You are hugely dedicated athlete, what is it that boxing brings
you that makes it so special?
“Boxing defines who I am, it is hard to explain why it is so
special and I do not know what I would do without the sport.
There is something pure about it, training hard, being one on
one in the ring”.
Tell us about your training. How much do you do and how do your
sessions break down?
“I generally train twice a day, five times a week, depending on
what phase of training I am in. Of course there is cardio work,
then you work on technique and power, sparring, speed work.
Mixing up the training ensures your body never gets used to what
you do so you can push yourself harder each time you train”.
Do you have any special diet tips?
“I do not have a special or a magical ingredient. All I know is
that you should eat a healthy and well balanced diet over five
small meals a day. That is the foundation of an athlete's
Do you have any advice for the thousands of young boys and girls
who wish to become World Champions just like you?
“The main advice I can offer is plenty of hard work and
dedication. The harder you work, the more results you will see.
You get such a great feeling from boxing”.
What is your motto?
“God always gives me strength”.
Copyright © 2012 AIBA http://www.aiba.org