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Boxing: Irish boxers dream of Gold in Baku and determined to create history
by Michael O'Neill
June 5, 2015
     
   
   

(JUNE 5)  The Irish boxing team arrived in Azerbaijan on Wednesday morning and the athletes have been busy getting used to life in Baku ahead of the start of competition. Led by head coach Billy Walsh and technical coach Zaur Antia, Irish boxing is currently enjoying huge success, spearheaded by record-breaking Olympic Champion Katie Taylor.

“It drives you on having Katie in the team”, said 20 year-old bantamweight Kurt Walker at the team’s hotel restaurant. She’s done so much and is so down-to-earth. Its good to have someone there like her, a big champion.” Walker has been training flat out for twelve weeks in Dublin to reach peak fitness in time for the historic Games.

While Taylor completes training with her team, the rest of Ireland’s boxing medal hopefuls were among the first athletes to arrive in Baku, part of a deliberate ploy by the team to allow the young squad time to get over the jet lag and used to the Azerbaijani summer heat. After a short time to acclimatise, they were quickly thrown into an intensive training camp with the Azerbaijan and Bulgarian teams.

“We’re used to big competitions but this is the biggest any of us have been to”, said Sean McComb, whose first lightweight fight comes on 16 June. “You can see what all the hype is about.”

Michaela Walsh who took silver in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow is another of the Irish squad hopeful of gaining a medal in Baku and if at her very best is certainly capable of becoming a force to be reckoned with whilst the third female in the team is Cavan's Ceire Smith who has considerable experience at international level having represented her country in the World's in Barbados and several major international tournaments.

“This is a young team”, says Head Coach Billy Walsh, “but to get this kind of experience a year-and-a-half out from the Olympics is phenomenal. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There’ll only ever be one ‘first’ European Games and they’re going to be a part of history in the making.”

Even more so of course should any of them strike Gold in Baku. All the news from the inaugural European Games women's boxing will be here on WBAN as and when we receive it.

Late news:

As we reported on WBAN in a recent preview, one familiar face missing from Baku will be Russia's Olympic Silver medallist (60kg) Sofya Ochigava. The Russian is still recovery from serious injury sustained in Morocco in 2010 and has recently undergone a third major surgical procedure (this time in Germany) following those cruciate ligament problems. That said she has twice made a comeback inc for London 2012 so I'm sure that all of the boxing family including her long time 'friend and foe' Katie Taylor wish her a full recovery in time for the qualifiers for Rio 2016.

 
     
     
   
 
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