Coach finally gets to Olympics
Getting to an Olympics will be one of the biggest achievements in veteran boxing coach Billy Meehan’s long career.
The Palmerston North man is the coach of the New Zealand boxing team for the Tokyo Olympics, which start this weekend.
The New Zealand team have only one fighter at the games, heavyweight David Nyika of Hamilton, who is New Zealand’s first male boxer to qualify for the Olympics since Soulan Pownceby in Athens in 2004.
Meehan, who flew out at the weekend, has been a long-time coach as well as a boxer in his own right.
Meehan fought at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane and the 1983 Commonwealth championships in Northern Ireland, where he won a silver medal.
As a coach he went to the 2010 Dehli Commonwealth Games and the Commonwealth
championships in Liverpool in 2007.
Now, he’s finally off to the Olympics. ‘‘It’s ticking off something on the bucket list. I’ve been in the game a long time and to get to go to an Olympics is the pinnacle of the sport.
‘‘It’s absolutely amazing and it’s a brilliant concept to be at. Especially this one, as it’s a team like no other and a games like no other, with Covid.’’
Meehan said it had been a hectic few days of preparation and having regular Covid-19 tests. They will be saliva tested every day in Japan. ‘‘There’s been briefing after briefing and, because I’m the sole support going with boxing, I’ve had to attend them. By default I’m the Covid liaison officer.’’
Leading up to Meehan and Nyika’s departure they had a three-week camp in Hamilton, and Meehan said Nyika was coming along well. ‘‘He’s really strong mentally in his head and physically in good shape.’’