Three GB boxers win gold medals at the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina, writes John Dennen
Triumph at the Youth Olympic Games
TEAM GB boxers remarkably won three gold medals, and one bronze at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. By the last day (Thursday, October 18) light-heavyweight Karol Itauma, lightweight Caroline Dubois, who became a Youth World champion this year already, and flyweight Hope Price had all triumphed.
In Ruslan Kolesnikov Itauma met a Russian who was the reigning European and World champion and who had beaten Karol before. But in their final Itauma produced the performance of his life, timing long punches from range, maintaining a solid defence to edge ahead over the first and second rounds. The third round kept it close but Itauma’s early hard work was decisive as he took a split decision.
“It means everything to win this gold medal,” said Itauma. “Ruskolesnikov is a very experienced boxer and he beat me in the European final. But I went back to the gym, I trained hard and I focused knowing that I wanted to get the job done when it really matters at the Youth Olympics.
“When he beat me in the Europeans it was my first big tournament. I went there and was like ‘woah’, this is big, this is new. But after the Europeans when I won silver and after the Worlds I went home and worked hard and listened to my coaches. In that short period I excelled and that along with experience I got from the other tournaments meant I was ready.”
Itauma had beaten Egypt’s Youssef Ali Kara Ali Moussa on a unanimous decision in their semi-final. “My dad’s here in Buenos Aires and when I was hugging him after the [final] I was just saying ‘dad, I won, I won’ over and over,” he said. “He told me I’d win. Yesterday he gave me a card and he wrote a long paragraph saying all the struggles and suffering I’ve been through in the past is going to be worth it tomorrow.
“We’re a team here as boxers and that’s through spending a lot of time together and bonding. When we come to major events like this we come as a team so you know when you’re in the ring you’re one team supporting each other.”
Caroline Dubois’ moment of triumph came in the final bout of the day and the last medal across all the sports in these Games. To continue the unbeaten run in her career, she unanimously outscored Thailand’s Porntip Buapa.
“This is everything I’ve ever dreamed of,” Caroline said. “When I’m training in the gym I’m imagining these fights so I’ve done this fight already 50 times before. It’s just amazing that it’s finally come true.
“I’m really happy with what the team have done here, all the boys, we’ve showed our class out there. When the boys finished they all came and supported me and it was great to have them 100% behind me.
“I’ve won the Youth Europeans, Worlds and now the Olympics. I’ve won it all, so soon it’ll be time for me to step up to the seniors and go for the Olympic Games.
“An Olympic Games is a very exciting prospect and I’d enjoy every minute if I ever had that chance. It’s amazing to even think about having an opportunity like that and I’d really appreciate it if it ever happened.”
In a clinical performance Dubois had unanimously outpointed Oriana Saputo in their 60kgs semi-final.
Hope Price made sure of his gold medal against Thailand’s Sarawut Sukthet, inside a single round. He prevented the Thai from engaging in close. Price suddenly changed the tempo of his assault and forced the referee to issue a standing count. It became clear that Sukthet was unable to continue and the Thai was stopped after only 109 seconds.
Boxing on Wednesday (October 17) he became the first Briton to win a gold medal as these Games and the first British boxer ever to win a Youth Olympic gold.
“It’s a dream come true. The Olympics is the best thing you can win in boxing,” Price said. “This medal means everything. Not just for me but for my dad and family too. The whole family has put a lot of time into me over the years so to repay them with a Youth Olympic
‘IT MEANS EVERYTHING TO WIN THIS GOLD MEDAL’
gold medal, and to be the first Brit to win one here and the first boxer ever, it’s great. It’s a bit of history.
“My dad’s here and is over the moon. My little brother is in Russia and has just won junior European bronze so it’s been a big week for the family.
“I’ve felt like I’ve been growing into the competition with each day and each fight. Today I felt good and was finding my groove in the first round and before I knew it, it was over. What a result.
“I was a little bit nervous pre-fight. I won silver at the World Championships so there were a bit of nerves and I wanted to come here and win the gold medal. I’ve done that now and I’m over the moon.” Light-welterweight
didn’t let the disappointment of losing his semi-final, by split decision to Russia’s Llia
Popov, derail him. He had to box-off for the bronze medal and did so with aplomb. After a blistering start against Morocco’s
Mohammed Boulaouja, his reach advantage saw him time one-two combinations, landing them on target. Azim gave his opponent four standing counts and ultimately halted Boulaouja in the second round.
“Winning a medal and being able to come back home from the Youth Olympic Games with bronze is amazing,” said the Slough boxer. “I felt really strong out there. I was just getting better and better and I could see the openings were there so I just wanted to take my time. After the third standing count I was sure the ref was going to stop it.
“This is a big stepping stone for me. Hopefully when I get a chance in the senior Olympics I’ll be more focused and will be more ready because I’d done a Youth Olympics.”
A semi-final split decision loss to Thailand’s Panpatchara Somnuek had put Ireland featherweight
Dearbhla Rooney into a bronze medal box-off. She beat New Zealand’s Te Shelford-edmonds on a unanimous decision in their box-off.
Hope Price had unanimously outscored her team-mate Dean
Clancy in the 52kgs semi-final. Dean just missed out a bronze medal, after he lost to a unanimous decision to Brazil’s Luiz Gabriel Chalot de Oliviera.
BRINGING THE POWER: Itauma lines up his left cross
BRILLIANT: Dubois [right] dazzles, as Price [below] wins his nal in a round