Three GB box­ers win gold medals at the Youth Olympic Games in Ar­gentina, writes John Den­nen

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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


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

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