Kiwi boxers chasing olympic dream

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian

Nine Kiwi boxers, including Western Bay of Plenty's Ariane Nicholson, are currently chasing an Olympic Dream.

They are preparing in Thailand for the Asia/Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament in Wuhan, China, on February 3-14 .

The Asia/Oceania Olympic qualifier joins the Americas, Europe, Africa and the last chance world qualification event in Paris in May 2020, as the road to boxing at the Tokyo Olympics.

Previously, the Pacific region had their own pathway to the olympics through a standalone Oceania qualifying tournament.

While the introduction of Olympic qualifying change can cause confusion and pain, Sideline Sid believes our boxers need to set their sights on medals and top 16 performances, and not simply qualifying for the Olympics.

The China Olympic qualifying tournament will be a high quality event and if the New Zealand boxers, who have spent the past twelve months on international forays, can make the semi-finals, they will book berths in Tokyo.

However, qualification will not be easy, with boxers from throughout Asia including the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan vying for olympic spots. 

The road to olympic qualification for our boxers is something of a Catch 22 situation.

Olympic medals and world titles bring high performance funding in our country, however, it extremely difficult to earn success on the world stage without good levels of seed funding, as is the case with Boxing New Zealand.

The only way that the nine New Zealand boxers can chase olympic qualification in China is self-funding, with the Kiwi number eight wire philosophy seeing local boxing communities rallying behind their olympic hopefuls.

Twelve months ago there looked to be a strong possibility that there would be no boxing at the 2020 Olympics.

The IOC (International Olympic Committee) had stated that AIBA, which controlled amateur boxing in the world, was corrupt and would not control the Tokyo Olympic boxing.

The IOC then stepped in to form a body that would control the Olympic boxing, however, it brings a smile to this writer’s dial, as they will utilise current AIBA referees, judges and other tournament officials in Tokyo.


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