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Begins Today: Ninth Edition of Women's European Elite Championships Open in Bucharest, Romania
by Michael O'Neill
May 31, 2014


(MAY 31)  The ninth edition of the European Women’s Elite Championships gets underway this weekend at the Polyvalent Hall in Bucharest. Romania. (May 31st-June 7th Inc).

The 2014 EUBC tournament will also act as a qualifier for the inaugural 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, as confirmed by EUBC President Franco Falcinelli who said: “After the success of the previous eight European Women’s Editions, it is my pleasure that the Romanian Boxing Federation will be hosting this important EUBC event in Bucharest.

“I’m also proud to communicate that the 2014 Women’s European Boxing Championships is also a Qualifying event for the first edition of the European 2015 Games hosted by the city of Baku, Azerbaijan.”

Thirty one nations, represented by 172 boxers, are expected to compete at 2014 EUBC European Women’s Elite Championships at the Polyvalent Hall home of Romanian National Sports.

Some surprises though in the teams selected. England for example have nominated King’s Heath boxer, Chantelle Cameron rather than Liverpool’s Natasha Jonas to take on such as Taylor and Ochigava at 60kg though Jonas is included at 64kg where she will be expected to medal.

Also missing will be Hartlepool’s 2012 World champion (75kg) Savannah Marshall who is ruled out due to a previous injury as Team GB High Performance Director, Rob McCracken explains:

“It is a shame that Savannah will not be able to travel with the team after she has worked so hard to overcome her injury, however she has not had enough quality preparation to be ready for such a demanding tournament like the European Championships. 2014 is a busy year for women’s boxing and we decided it was unwise to take a risk with Savannah when she is not 100% fit and we have more major championships (the World’s in Jeju Island, South Korea) later in the year.

'The European Championships is always a tough assignment; however our women have a good record in this tournament so we are approaching it in a positive frame of mind.

'The Europeans is the first major tournament in a big year for women’s boxing, so all of the team are looking to deliver a good performance and build on the success that our boxers have enjoyed in recent years.'

The very strong England team will of course include Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams (51kg) plus Lisa Whiteside (54kg), Sarah Dunne (57kg),Chantelle Cameron (60kg),

Natasha Jonas (64kg), Stacey Copeland (69kg) and Carly Ogogo (81kg). Adams, will be defending the title she won in Rotterdam in 2011 as she bids to become the first ever British woman to become a two-time European Champion.

As usual Ireland’s main medal hope is Katie Taylor who in Romania will be seeking a record sixth European title in a row but faces a strong challenge from yes, ‘old foe’ Russia’s Sofya Ochigava, once more but also from Poland’s Karolina Michalczuk, (twice a world champion),French titleholder Estelle Mosselly and the aforementioned Cameron.

The rest of the Irish team consists of experienced Cavan BC boxer, Ceire Smith at 51kg, Michaela Walsh of the Belfast Holy Family Golden Gloves club (54kg), and other Irish Elite champions Joanna Lambe (Carrickmacross) and Clare Grace (69kg) from the Callan BC in County Kilkenny. Fiona Hennigan is in Bucharest as Irish Team Manager with coaches Pete Taylor,Zauri Antia and Gerry Storey (Snr).

It will be a busy summer for Walsh who has already been selected for the Northern Ireland team at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July and also hopes to make the Irish World Championship team later in the year.

Walsh though could be very much grow into a star of the future if she is properly looked after and funded. She has won International Youth and Junior awards in recent seasons such as a World bronze medal, is a European Silver medallist and also a European Bronze medallist.

Speaking to wban.com before setting out for Bucharest, she told us: “ At home I have 8 Irish titles of which 4 are at senior level. I also have 7 Ulster titles and 7 Antrim titles. Last year I was the AIBA ranked World number 11 at senior level at 57kg but since then I have moved down to the Olympic weight category 51kg. I also beat the then world number 2 last year (Lisa Whiteside) in an Ireland v England international in Mayo.”

One of the many leading female boxers in Northern Ireland, she will be joined by Alanna Murphy at the Commonwealth’s in July though somewhat surprisingly another Irish Elite champion (at 81kg) Fiona Nelson of the City of Belfast Academy club has not been nominated for Bucharest. That Murphy has not been included either is much less of a surprise since World and Olympic champion Taylor was always going to be the no. 1 at 60kg.

Walsh tells us of her career to date: “My home club is Holy Family Golden Gloves where I am trained by Gerry Storey Senior, Gerry Storey Junior and also my own father Damien Walsh. Without these men I would not be where I am today. They all play a huge role in my life and help me succeed. I have a younger brother who is also Irish Champion, he trains along with me and pushes me to my highest limits. My family are very supportive of me boxing and are always behind me 100% and there is nothing I love better than making them proud”.

An ‘amateur’ in the original sense of the word, she concluded: “I don’t personally get any funding or have any sponsors, I'm at boxing full time for my club and country and haven't got time to work as my training schedule takes up most of my time. It would be hugely appreciated if I could find a sponsor coming up to these major competitions.

Just a bit of help is all I’m asking ☺ on #TheRoadToGold so if there are any sponsors out there who would like to help, then Michaela would love to hear from you at: michaelaw05@hotmail.com

Meantime, the AIBA team have been busy putting together their thoughts on the 2014 tournament. Here is their preview as the draw and preliminary rounds approach on Saturday (May 31st) .

”The most anticipated battle of the continental championships is expected to take place between Ireland's national legend Katie Taylor, and Russia's two-time AIBA World Champion Sofya Ochigava.

The Tension and the Drama

Ireland's four-time AIBA World Champion, and London 2012 Olympic Champion Katie Taylor, and Russia's two-time AIBA World Champion Sofya Ochigava are perhaps the two top female athletes in the whole boxing world, and both fight in the same weight class.

They have met four times in the last Olympic era, and Ireland’s Taylor has won three of the contests, including the two most important bouts in 2012, Qinhuangdao and in the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Russian boxer Ochigava has returned to the world of boxing, and the whole world is eagerly waiting to see if she can find the winning tactics against Taylor in the upcoming ninth edition of the EUBC European Women’s Continental Championships.

Others ones to watch:

England’s London 2012 Olympic Champion Nicola Adams claimed the gold medal at the EU Women's Championships last year, and continued her winning path at the Feliks Stamm Memorial Tournament in Warsaw last month.

The Leeds born boxer has been unbeaten since May 2012.

Now 31, the English Flyweight class (51 kg) star had a close contest against Russia's defending National Champion Sayana Sagatayeva in the final of the Feliks Stamm Memorial Tournament, and she will be eager to dominate the competition again ahead of her anticipated rematch with the Russian boxer in Bucharest.

Returning boxer of the championships:

Sweden's AIBA Women's World Champion veteran boxer Anna Laurell has returned to the world of boxing after the London 2012 Olympic Games, where she competed at the Middleweight class (75 kg).

The 34-year-old Laurell has decided not give up her Rio 2016 Olympic Games dream, and after the International Boxing Association (AIBA) raised the age limit of the female fighters, she has now got the chance to realise her target.

Laurell started her boxing career back in 1997, and competed in all of the main international events since 1999.

Her career highlight was undoubtedly the gold medal from the historical first edition of the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships in Scranton in 2001 where the first ever female worldwide event was held with great success.

Facts of the tournament:

Altogether 172 boxers from 31 nations have registered to take part in the EUBC European Women’s Continental Championships in Bucharest, with boxers born between 1974 and 1995 eligible to compete in the event.

The top nations of the European continent such as Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Romania and Hungary will all be present, with a maximum of ten boxers each.

Azerbaijan, England, France, Germany, Italy and Poland have also sent strong delegations.

Developing women boxing nations including Armenia, Croatia, Israel, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland will have top hopes in Bucharest.

The Lightweight class (60 kg) is the most popular category where 24 female boxers will be fighting for the medals, including Ireland’s Katie Taylor, Russia’s Sofya Ochigava, Poland's former 2 time AIBA World Champion, Karolina Michalzuk, France's champion Estelle Mossely and England’s rising star Chantelle Cameron.

History of the event:

The first European Women’s Boxing Cup was held in Koping, Sweden in 1999, while the first official edition was hosted in St. Amand-les-Eaux, France in 2001 where 78 boxers competed.

After that, women’s boxing has turned into one of the fastest growing sports in the world, especially since top female boxers could compete in the Olympic Games as well.

This coveted continental championship has also taken place in Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Denmark, Ukraine and in the Netherlands.

In the last (8th) edition of the EUBC European Women's Continental Championships which was held in Rotterdam, the Russians won four gold medals while Ireland's Katie Taylor also bagged a gold in the Dutch city.

Four of the titleholders will have the chance to defend their medals in Bucharest”

News from Bucharest here on wban.com throughout the tournament.

So there you have it, a great tournament in prospect and for those who like to look at the previous tournament results here, courtesy of that excellent Polish site

STREFA is a link which allows you to see all the results from each of the previous eight editions of the European Championships plus the two earlier European Cup tournaments.



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