The women’s World championships conclude in Delhi, writes John Dennen
Women’s World championships
WHO is Anna Okhota to stand in the way of history? In the lightflyweight final at the World championships on November 24 the Ukrainian was the last obstacle between Indian legend Mary Kom and an extraordinary sixth gold medal. In her home country, at the Indira Gandhi Sport Complex, Kom would not be denied. Her split decision victory broke the record she had jointly held with Ireland’s Katie Taylor.
Kom was almost overcome with emotion. “First of all I would like to thank all my fans,” she said. “It was very challenging for me as well.
“[Tokyo 2020] is still on my mind. I’m still dreaming. I have already won a bronze medal in [London] 2012 but still as an athlete, as a boxer, in my discipline, I want to win a gold medal for the nation… I will try my best.”
Ireland does have a new lightweight World champion in Kellie Harrington. In her fifth consecutive victory of the tournament Harrington took a split decision win over Thailand’s Supaporn Srisondee. “It’s always been my dream to become a World champion. The support from home has been phenomenal as well, I would like to thank everyone,” Harrington said.
Welsh middleweight Lauren Price was GB’S only medallist at these World championships. Opening her tournament with unanimous decision victory over Ireland’s Aoife Burke, she took a split verdict over Poland’s Elzbieta Wojcik in the quarter-final. “I knew that my opponent would come forward, so the plan was to draw her in and use my speed to counter her. The first round was close, but I think I really picked it up in the second and third and deserved the win,” Price said.
That set up a semi-final with the Netherlands’ Nouchka Fontijn. The latter is an Olympic silver medallist and the reigning European champion. Fontijn towered over Price. But the Welsh middleweight put her speed to work. Going on the back foot she made Fontin come to her, reaching after Price with jabs. It handed Fontijn the initiative, allowing her to march forward. But Lauren still sprang forward to swing in combinations, finishing well in the last round to make it a close contest. The decision was split, but it went to Fontijn.
“She had a big advantage in size and reach, but I think my tactics were spot-on and I countered her well. It was a really close bout and I feel I could easily have got the decision, but unfortunately only two of the judges’ saw it my way,” Price said. “It is disappointing to lose when I feel I could have gone all the way in this tournament, however when I reflect on things in a few days, I suppose I can be happy that I have come away with a medal and established myself as one of the best in the world.
“It has been a great year for me winning Commonwealth gold and then taking bronze at both the European and World championships, I just need to make sure I keep up the momentum next year and continue improving as we look towards the Olympic qualifiers.”
England’s middleweight Natasha Gale just missed out on a medal. She took points wins over Kazakhstan and Italy, Aida Ongdash and Assunta Canfora,
defeating both by unanimous decision. That put her into a quarter-final with China’s Li Qian.
In a close contest, the heavy shots Natasha landed weren’t enough to force the decision her way, with a unanimous verdict going to Qian. The Chinese boxer would ultimately win gold, beating Fontijn on a split decision in the final.
English welterweight and seasoned international, Sandy Ryan lost her opening contest to Italy’s Angela Carini on a split decision. “I came here with total belief but this wasn’t my time. Boxing is subjective. I know I lost it myself, on the day it wasn’t my best performance. Right now I am my own competition. I will reflect what I need to do when I’m back home,” Ryan said.
Welsh 69kgs Rosie Eccles has been having a good year, but she also lost her first contest in India, with Canada’s Myriam da Silva
unexpectedly edging her out on
‘TOKYO IS ON MY MIND. I’M STILL DREAMING. I WILL TRY MY BEST’
a split decision. Paige Murney, a Commonwealth silver medallist like Eccles, won her first bout, beating Italy’s Irma Testa on a split decision. But Murney lost out in her next bout, with Korea’s Oh Yeon-ji unanimously outpointing her. England newcomer Ellie
Scotney did pick up a victory in the World championships but met defeat in her second contest in India. Argentina’s 57kgs Leonela
Sanchez beat Scotney on a unanimous points decision.
GB flyweight Ebonie Jones was in good form. She took unanimous points wins over Indonesia’s Ainun
Azizah and Spain’s Andrea
Lashera. Jones could have gone further but India’s experience Pinki
Rani blocked her path. Jones applied pressure diligently but couldn’t persuade the judges, who awarded a unanimous decision to Rani.
“This is a relatively inexperienced group so to come away from a tournament as tough as the World championships with one medal and been very unlucky not to win more is a very good performance,” GB Boxing’s performance director, Rob Mccracken, said. “Some of the newer members of the squad have shown real potential. They have demonstrated they have what it takes to do well at this level and have performed very well, only losing in tight decisions against top level opponents that could have gone either way. It augurs well for the future and I am confident that we have seen enough to be optimistic of more success in the future for our female boxers.”
India were hard to beat in their home country. Ireland’s lightwelterweight Amy Broadhurst was left baffled when she had a point deducted seemingly for landing a left hook on Simranjit
Kaur, the referee claiming it was a slap. The Indian boxer ultimately received a split decision. “The trip has come to an end. This has been an unbelievable experience but a disastrous experience all rolled into one,” was how Broadhurst summed it all up. Commonwealth Games silver medallist, Ireland’s Michaela
Walsh also didn’t reach the medal stages, losing a split decision to Italy Alessia Mesiano. Amy Andrew, a Londoner representing New Zealand, won her first bout in India, beating Algeria’s Khelif Hadjila. Australia’s Commonwealth Games champion
Skye Nicolson eliminated Andrew in the next stage, taking a split decision. Another 57kgs Londoner was also competing at the Indira Gandhi Sport Complex. Ramla Ali lost a split decision to Morocco’s
Doaa Toujani but became the first boxer ever to represent Somalia at a World championships.
LEGEND: Kom’s triumph is rapturously received
SHARP SOUTHPAW: Price looks for Fontijn with a straight cross
STAR MADE: Harrington [right] secures gold in the 60kgs nal