Category Archives: Amateur

June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
GB boxers

Greg Woodward/GB Boxing

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A HISTORIC day at the EUBC European Boxing Championships in Kharkiv in Ukraine saw GB boxers win seven out of eight semi-finals and secure a place in tomorrow’s gold medal matches.

It is the best performance ever by a GB Boxing team at a European Championships and surpasses the achievement of the boxers that competed at the 2015 event in Bulgaria, where the team contested five finals and won six medals in total.

All seven of the boxers in tomorrow’s finals are from England and have the chance to emulate the achievement of Luke Campbell who won the bantamweight title in 2008 to become the first Englishman since 1961 to be crowned European Champion.

Tomorrow’s finals will be shown live from 2.00pm on the BBC Sport website and connected TV (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/27047614) with commentary by Ronald McIntosh and Richie Woodhall.

Light-flyweight, Galal Yafai, got the team off to a great start with a split-decision win over Carmona Heredia of Spain.

He was quickly joined in tomorrow’s finals by Liverpool’s Peter McGrail who dominated Spain’s Jose Quiles Brotons to secure a unanimous win at bantamweight.

Luke McCormack completed a hat-trick of wins for Great Britain with a narrow victory over London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, Evaldas Patrauskas of Lithuania, in the light-welterweight bout.

Rookie heavyweight, Cheavon Clarke, made it four wins out of four as he outpointed a far more experienced boxer in third seed, Roy Korving of Holland, to continue his amazing run and cap a glorious first session for GB Boxing.

The man from Gravesham in Kent was only promoted to the GB Boxing squad in the spring of 2017 and has surpassed all expectations in his first major tournament, having also stopped the 2015 world championship bronze medallist, Abdulkadir Abdullayev of Azerbaijan, in his quarter-final.

The early evening session saw boxers from Great Britain continue to dominate their opponents as Birmingham’s Niall Farrell kicked things off with a win over Ireland’s Brendan Irvine to reach the flyweight final.

Pat McCormack showed all his class to beat the home nation’s Ievgenii Barabanov to join twin brother Luke in tomorrow’s final and earn the opportunity to improve on the silver medal he won in Bulgaria in 2015.

Much to the relief of the home crowd, Great Britain’s only defeat on the day eventually came against a Ukrainian boxer as Calum French lost out to Yuri Shestak in the lightweight contest.

The Birtley ABC boxer was disappointed not to join club mates Pat and Luke McCormack in tomorrow’s finals but can be very happy with winning a bronze medal in his first appearance at a major international tournament.

It was left to Frazer Clarke to cap a historic and triumphant day for England and as he continued GB Boxing’s tradition of producing top-class super-heavyweights by earning a split decision win over Djamili-Dini Aboudou-Moindze of France to make the final in his first ever major international tournament.

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Video: AIBA

June 13, 2017
June 13, 2017
European championships

World Series of Boxing

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THE European championships begin in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Wednesday (June 14). This will be a crucial test for the continent’s boxers as they need to reach the quarter-finals to qualify for the World championships later this year.

The GB team, who will compete as England, Wales and Scotland is as follows:

Galal Yafai (England, 49kgs)

Niall Farrell (England, 52kgs)

Peter McGrail (England, 56kgs)

Lee McGregor (Scotland, 56kgs)

Calum French (England, 60kgs)

Luke McCormack (England, 64kgs)

Pat McCormack (England, 69kgs)

Ben Whittaker (England, 75kgs)

John Docherty (Scotland, 75kgs)

Tom Whittaker Hart (England, 81kgs)

Cheavon Clarke (England, 91kgs)

Scott Forrest (England, 91kgs)

Frazer Clarke (England, 91&kgs)

The Irish squad is:

52kg – Flyweight – Brendan Irvine (St Pauls)

56kg – Bantamweight –  Kurt Walker (Canal)

60kg – Lightweight – Patrick Mongan (Olympic)

64kg – Light-welter – Sean McComb (Holy Trinity)

69kg – Welterweight – Steven Donnelly (All Saints)

75kg – Middleweight – Emmett Brennan (Glasnevin)

81kg – Light-heavy – Joe Ward (Moate)

91kg – Heavyweight – Darren O’Neill (Paulstown)

91+kg – Super-heavy – Dean Gardiner (Clonmel)

Speaking to Boxing News, GB Boxing performance director Rob McCracken looked ahead to the tournament. “It’s always difficult. There’s been some difficult decisions to make,” he said. “Myself and the coaches are always looking to pick who we feel is the best boxer at that point. There’s no guarantee you’ll stay that boxer. We’ve seen it before where boxers have gone to a major tournament for GB but then the next major tournament a different boxer’s gone at their weight and sometimes people get surprised by that. It’s just done on form, it’s just done on who’s performing at that time and who’s in the best position to go and do well at a tournament. It’s top level boxing so all tournaments are hard and the draw is tough sometimes.

GB Boxing

“It’s a four year cycle, everyone gets the chance to stake their claim and show what they can do. If you miss out in a major and your form’s good and you keep working hard then you’ll get the opportunity at some point to prove yourself at another major.

“It’s the first time we have to go to a situation where you have to go to one tournament to qualify for a World championships. All of the boxers going to Ukraine will be trying to qualify for the Worlds but there’s not a second chance. You look at it in the previous cycle to qualify for Qatar you went to the European Games and the European championships. This time you just go to the European championships.

“You need the rub of the green, you need to perform well, you could do with not too stiff a draw in the early part of the tournament. It’s elite boxing, it’s the best in Europe. It’s always tough.”

For more from Rob McCracken, Pat McCormack and Ben Whittaker don’t miss this week’s issue of Boxing News magazine

February 28, 2017
February 28, 2017
Tokyo 2020

Action Images

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Hosting the summer Olympic Games does not necessarily guarantee the host nation winning a large haul of medals or even a medal at all in the boxing ring.

Host countries London 1948 (GB), Melbourne 1956 (Australia), Montreal 1976 (Canada), Barcelona 1992 (Spain), Sydney 2000 (Australia) and Athens 2004 (Greece) did not bag a gold medal between them; indeed Montreal, Sydney and Athens did not yield a single ring medal for the host country.

So, Tokyo in 2020, might proceed with caution when eyeing up its own ring medal potential.

We now take a closer look at how host countries fared in the medal table in the post-World War 2 Summer Games. In 1948 GB won a mere two silvers, Finland landed a gold and four bronze in Helsinki in 1952, while Australia captured a single bronze in Melbourne in 1956.

The Italians fared very well in Rome in 1960, with three gold, three silver and one bronze medal; Tokyo in 1964 saw Japan land a single gold. Mexico achieved two gold and two bronze in Mexico City in 1968; while Munich in 1968, saw the then West Germany and the then East Germany capture one gold apiece with the then West Germany also taking a bronze.

Moscow in 1980 was somewhat of a phenomenon for the Soviets who won one gold, six silver and one bronze. These Games were boycotted by 65 nations led by the USA in view of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and one might have thought the door was open for many Soviet triumphs. However, the Cubans had other ideas, winning six gold, two silver and two bronze with four of their boxers defeating Soviet opposition in five of the finals. A sure case of it doesn’t always work out for the home nation even when much is stacked in its favour.

However the Soviet led boycott of 14 nations, which included Cuba and most of the former east European countries four years later in Los Angeles, gave the USA, a huge medal haul (the biggest in the history of the post World War 11 Games), with nine golds from 12 weight divisions, one silver and a bronze too for good measure. The United States capitalised on this situation in a big way; unlike he Soviets four years earlier.

The South Koreans bagged two gold, one silver and a bronze in Seoul in 1988, while Spain landed a lone silver in Barcelona in 1992. America’s success in Atlanta in 1996 was so different from Los Angeles in 1984, with just one gold and five bronze medals on this occasion. How fortunes can change within a few years it seems.

The Peoples Republic of China came of age in Beijing in 2008, collecting two gold, one silver and one bronze; while London 2012 was triumph for Team GB with three golds, one silver and a bronze, with  women allowed to box for the first time in the summer Games, flyweight Nicola Adams triumphed with one of the gold medals.

In Rio in 2016 Brazil won their first ever gold medal in the Olympic boxing ring. It was their sole ring medal at their own Games.

So what does all of this tell us? I hasten to add these are some of my own thoughts and mine alone, please read as follows: home advantage can assist but other factors, such as boycotts, can play their part too: the numbers of boxers, the standing and standard of amateur boxing in the host nation is very important; the qualifying process for nations could affect the quality of boxers who might share the ring with those from the host nation: judging and officialdom generally can play a part in the success or otherwise of host nations’ boxers; the intensity and volume of home crowd support which can “lift” performances; the lure of professionalism and the trappings that come with it can derail some potential Olympic competitors. I am sure there are many more factors which can and probably do determine fate of boxers from host countries. I offer the above to inspire discussion, never a bad thing.

Now for my personal Cuban revolutionary “bombshell”. As the summer Olympic movement is currently constructed, there is no chance that the tiny island of Cuba could ever host the Games in its own right; but what a huge gesture from the IOC and its boxing authorities, if Cuba were to be allowed on one occasion to stage the boxing events in the Games. Almost fifty years ago – come Tokyo 2020 – Cuba burst upon the Olympic boxing scene in Munich in 1972, winning three gold medals; they have been a dominant Olympic force in the ring ever since. Such a gesture is long overdue and thoroughly warranted.

So, IOC and AIBA over to you. The Games are ever changing as is the sporting world, so why not take a chance and reward a small country like Cuba with such a positive and overdue gesture? It is fine to summon the sportsmen and women of the world to meet every four years in large cities across the globe; but we must not lose sight of the fact that so many countries will never have the opportunity to stage a full blown Olympics; so in a spirit of cooperation and friendship, do bring some elements of the Games to those who will never ever have the chance to stage them for themselves.  Is this really too much to ask in the modern world?

Fantasy, pie in the sky, call it what you will, isn’t it high time that large sporting organisations recognise those smaller nations who have done so much to kindle interest and excellence in particular sporting fields; surely Cuba and amateur boxing is one such case. No doubt there are others too. I now rest my case.

England Boxing Youth championships

Chris Bevan/England Boxing

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England Boxing Youth championships finals results:

Male: 49: Ibrahim Nadim (Bury) outpd by HOPE PRICE (Hunslet Club) split. 52: ETHAN JAMES (Kings Heath) outpd Jake Harrison (Gemini) split. 56: CHARLES FRANKHAM (The Ring) outpd Shiloh Defreitas (Repton) split. 60: MARK CHAMBERLAIN (Team Wiseman BA) outpd Ben Marksby (Darlington) split. 64: BEN VAUGHAN (Lydney Community & Police) outpd John Johnstone (The Ring) split. 69: MARK DICKINSON (Birtley) outpd Josh Frankham (The Ring) split. 75: RAMTIN MUSAH (Beartown) outpd Aaron Bowen (Triumph) unan. 81: KAROL ITAUMA (St Mary’s) rsc 3 Noah Marshall (Knowle). 91: JESSE DEAN HARRIS (Repton) outpd Theo Fearon (Bilborough Community) unan. 91+: MARTIN MONGAN (Ardwick Lads) rsc 2 Robert Davies (Stainforth)

Female: 48: ELIZABETH BOOLS (Trowbridge) outpd Macy Kilkenny (East Middlesbrough) unan. 51: CHLOE WATSON (Birkenhead Venture) outpd Shauna Leigh (East Durham) split. 54: COURTNEY McCARTHY (Jimmy Egans) outpd Maisey Rose Courtney (Bodyshots) unan. 57: SIAN O’TOOLE (Droitwich) outpd Bethany Warne (Devonport Police) split. 60: SADIE THOMAS (Headland) outpd Harli Whitwell (St Ives) split. 64: ELLIE HOPKINS (Braunstone Golden Gloves) outpd Patsy Smith (March) split. 69: OLIVIA HUSSEY (Hook & Jab) outpd Millicent Hansen (Fusion Boxing Fit) unan. 75: GEORGIA O’CONNOR (Seconds Out Boxing Academy) outpd Tori Creighton (Ward Degans) split

SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

Winners in bold

Ring A

49kg Red – Ibrahim Nadim (Bury ABC) vs Blue – Danny Quinn (Devenport ABC) rsc

49kg Red – Hope Price (Hunslet BC) vs Blue – Hussan Hussain (Len Woodhall Community ABC) unan

51kg Red – Kira Carter (Tigers) vs Blue – Shauna Taylor (East Durham B.A) unan

51kg Red – Demi Cox (Scunthorpe Imps ABC) vs Blue – Chloe Watson (Birkenhead Venture) unan

52kg Red – Jake Harrison (Gemini ABC PCC) vs Blue – Jake Finch (Cleary’s ABC) unan

52kg Red – Eithan James (Kings Heath ABC) vs Blue – Bobby Faulkner (Sharpstyle ABC) unan

54kg Red – Ceri-Anne Odell (O’Dells Community Pride) vs Blue – Courtney McCarthy (Jimmy Egans ABC) rsc

56kg Red – Charles Frankham (The Ring) vs Blue – Connor Burton (Middleton Select) rsc

56kg Red – Joe Tyers (Dalington ABC) vs Blue – Shiloh Defreitas (Repton) split

60kg Red – Aqib Fyaz (Northside ABC) vs Blue – Mark Chamberlain (Team Wiseman) split

60kg Red – Donte Dixon (Manor BC) vs Blue – Ben Marksby (Darlington ABC) unan

64kg Red – Catherine Pringle (Northallerton ABC) vs Blue – Ellis Hopkins (Braunstone Golden Gloves ABC) split

64kg Red – Danielle Allsop (St Johns ABC) vs Blue – Patsy Smith (March) split

 

Ring B

57kg Red – Jesse Stevens (Guilford City) vs Blue – Bethany Warne (Devenport Police ABC) unan

57kg Red – Leah Smith (Bridlington CYP) vs Blue – Sian O’Toole (Droitwich ABC) unan

64kg Red – Owen Cooper (Worcester City ABC) vs Blue – John Johnstone (The Ring) unan

64kg Red – Ben Vaughan (Kings Heath ABC) vs Blue – Lewis Denitith (Team Wiseman ABC) rsc

69kg Red – Amy Bullock (Selby BA) vs Blue – Olivia Hussey (Hook & Jab) rsc

69kg Red – Mark Dickinson (Birtley ABC) vs Blue – Patrick Brown (Salewest ABC) unan

69kg Red – Josh Frankham (The Ring) vs Blue – Michael Hennesay (Bodyshots) split

75kg Red – Will Harty (Hunslet Club) vs Blue – Aaron Bowen (Triumph ABC) unan

75kg Red – Billy Wade (Darlington ABC) vs Blue – Ramtin Musah (Beartown ABC) unan

81kg Red – Terry Dean Smith (Ludlow ABC) vs Blue – Noah Marshall (Knowle BC) unan

81kg Red – Ketan Jackson (Northside ABC) vs Blue – Karol Itauma (St Mary’s) unan

91kg Red – Clyde Best (South Durham ABC ) vs Blue – Jesse Dean Harris (Repton ABC) unan

Quarter-finals results:

Winners in Bold

Ring A 

46kg-49kg – Red – Reece Oldfield (Fenland Sparta ABC) V’s Blue – Hope Price (Hunslet Club) unan

46kg-49kg – Red – Adam Reichard (Wearmouth Boxing Club) V’s Blue – Hasan Hussain (Len Woodhall Community ABC) unan

52kg – Red – Aadam Hussain (The Ring) V’s Blue – Eithan James (Kings Heath ABC) split

52kg – Red – Bobby Faulkner (Sharpstyle ABC) V’s Blue – Keiran Desmond (Chadwell St Mary) unan

56kg – Red – Charles Frankham (The Ring) V’s Blue – Nico Leivers (Kings Heath ABC) split

56kg – Red – Connor Burton (Middleton Select ABC) V’s Blue – Levi Dennis (Attleborough ABC) unan

56kg – Red – Callum Smith (Trowbridge ABC) V’s Blue – Joe Tyers (Dalington ABC) unan

56kg – Red – Shiloh Defreitas (Repton ABC) V’s Blue – Hamzah Ahmed (Wallsall Wood) unan

60kg – Red – Mark Chamberlain (Team Wiseman Boxing Academy) V’s Blue – Henry Turner (Repton) split

60kg – Red – Donte Dixon (Manor Boxing Academy) V’s Blue – Kamrun Sullivan (O’Dells Community Pride ABC) unan

60kg – Red – Ben Marksby (Darlington ABC) V’s Blue – Bailey Philips (Downend Police BC) RSC

 

Ring B 

64kg – Red – John Johnstone (The Ring) V’s Blue – Brad Ingram (Gloucester City ABC) unan

64kg – Red – Ben Vaughan (Lydney Community and Police Club) V’s Blue – Kai Green (Hyde & District ABC) RSC

64kg – Red – Lewis Deitith (Team Wiseman ABC) V’s Blue – Marcu Molloy (Rotunda ABC) split

57kg – Red – Jessie Wrighton (Phoenix Fire ABC) V’s Blue – Leah Smith (Bridlington CYP) unan

57kg – Red – Angelica Smith (Boston ABC) V’s Blue – Sian O’Toole (Droitwich ABC) split

69kg – Red – Patrick Brown (Salewesr ABC) V’s Blue – Dominic Owoo (Barton Hill ABC) unan

69kg – Red – Josh Frankham (The Ring) V’s Blue – Tyler Rivers (Earl Shilton ABC) unan

69kg – Red – Michael Hennasay (Bodyshots ABC) V’s Blue – Finbar O’Flaherty (Priory Park) unan

75kg – Red – Aaron Bowen (Triumph ABC) V’s Blue – Levi Frankham (The Ring) unan

75kg – Red – Billy Wade (Darlington ABC) V’s Blue – Regan Lazenby (March) unan

75kg – Red – Ramtin Mudah (Beartown ABC) V’s Blue – Samuel Littlechild (Jersey Leonies ABC) unan

81kg – Red – Karol Itauma (St Mary’s) V’s Blue – Ben Jarvis (Redcar ABC) unan

December 19, 2016
December 19, 2016
Uzbekistan

Action Images

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UZBEKISTAN, a country of a little over 30 million people, topped the men’s ring medal table at Rio 2016, with seven medals overall, just edging out the legendary Cubans who finished with six medals. It is however, a different story for women boxers from Uzbekistan who have yet to win either a World Championship medal or an Olympic medal. Perhaps their time will come soon?

Boxing is a very popular sport in Uzbekistan and the men have won four Olympic gold, two silver and eight bronze medals. Not a bad medal haul, when one considers that Uzbekistan only competed in its own right as an independent republic at the Atlanta Games in 1996 – where a bronze medal was secured – quite big strides in a mere 20 years then.

There is an even more impressive medal haul in the men’s World Championships, which Uzbekistan first entered in Tampere, Finland in 1993. Since then, no fewer than 30 medals have been bagged: five gold, 10 silver and 15 bronze.

Their first gold medal was won in the Sydney Olympics in 2000 by light-welterweight, Mahammatkodir Abdoollayev, while, light-middleweight, Karim Tulaganov having won their first Olympic boxing medal, a bronze in Atlanta in 1996. Two bronze medals were also gained in Sydney.

2004 in Athens produced two more bronze medals, while disappointingly there was a ‘nil return’ in 2008 in Beijing. Another single bronze was forthcoming in London 2012 and then a medal explosion followed in Rio in 2016. Uzbekistan was making its statement at the Olympic Games and notably in the boxing ring.  We will look at their medallists shortly.

Some pundits might say, perhaps with some justification, in the overall light of past results, that their Rio medal haul, might be a one-off; the counter argument perhaps just as equally strong is that they are finally coming of age on the big stage and aim to stay there. Of course only time will tell whose assessment will be the more accurate of the two.

Now back to Rio 2016, where 11 Uzbek boxers were on parade. Three gold medals came via the fists of light-flyweight Hasanboy Dusmatov, flyweight Shakhobidin Zoirov and light-welterweight Fazliddin Gaibnazarov. Silvers went to 69kgs Shakhram Giyasov and middleweight Bektemir Melikuziev and finally a couple of bronze medals went to bantamweight Murodjon Akhmadaliev and heavyweight Rustam Tulaganov.

Perhaps it was not so surprising after all that they excelled in Rio when you consider that in 2016 taking part in their first ever World Boxing Series the Uzbek Tigers reached the semi- final stage where they were whitewashed 10-0 by the eventual winners the Cuba Domadores, who in turn prevailed 9-1 over our very own British Lionhearts in the VI series final.

So what does Tokyo 2020 hold for Uzbekistan? Will it be Rio all over again or perhaps disappointment as in Beijing in 2008. Who can tell? My hunch is that medals will be won, even if not quite so plentiful as those claimed in Brazil.

December 12, 2016
December 12, 2016
Robson Conceicao

Action Images/Peter Cziborra

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BOXING at the Rio 2016 was interesting  for many and varied reasons, not all good, I hasten to add; and identified the “old guard”, namely Cuba and the “new guard”, namely Uzbekistan, as the principal gold medal players in the men’s event with three a piece. Perhaps no real surprise there; but to say just how well Uzbekistan is doing these days. They are certainly the ‘new kids’ in the ring!

Other gold medals went to Brazil, the host nation, their first ever gold in the Olympic ring, while Kazakhstan, Russia and France each ‘weighed in’ with one gold.

In the women’s tournament, two of the gold medallists from London 2012, namely our very own flyweight Nicola Adams and American middleweight Claressa Shields retained their respective Olympic crowns, while there was a first gold for France at lightweight, through Estelle Mossely. The achievements once again of Adams and Shields were truly magnificent and who knows what might be in store for them in the years ahead.

Overall, in the men’s event, Uzbekistan took 7 medals, Cuba 6, France, Kazakhstan and Russia with 4 each, Azerbaijan, Team GB and the Unites States with 2 each and sole medals for Brazil (a gold), China, Croatia, Colombia, Germany, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco and Venezuela.

In the women’s tournament, the12 medals were distributed as follows: China 3, France 2 (including their first gold), the following countries each won a single medal: Team GB (gold), USA (gold), Columbia, Finland, Russia, Kazakhstan and the Netherlands

So, what conclusions can we draw from the medal tables and their distribution, given that there were 286 entrants from 76 countries.

First, you do not need to come from necessarily a country with a large population to win gold medals and head the medal tables: Cuba and Uzbekistan are clear examples of this. Cuba has a population of a little over 11 million people, roughly equivalent to the population of the Greater London area and some of its south eastern hinterland. Uzbekistan with a population of over 30 million people can hardly be described in all honesty as a ‘big country’.

Yet these two countries successfully nurture the talent they have and then let them loose on the Olympic and World stages with outstanding successes. Cuba is a truly remarkable example of a country committed to boxing. Uzbekistan, following its own internal traditions, is developing a fine tradition in boxing.

Second, home continental advantage did not really materialise in Rio. Brazil won a gold medal, Colombia got a silver and a bronze, Venezuela a bronze, but this was a very poor return from the South American continent. Argentina seems well and truly to have fallen off the gold standard and it will be a hard road for all those countries aspiring to reach Tokyo in four years’ time.

Indeed Africa, only secured a bronze from Morocco. South Africa no longer appears to be the force it once was, while Central America had to rely upon Mexico for its lone bronze medal. These countries and their respective continents have much to do to get back among the medals and it will be no easy task to do so.

Third, the poor form of the once so dominant United States of America continues, while Team GB was a shadow of its hugely successful ring outfit at London 2012, so more work to be done by both these boxing giants in time for Tokyo in 2020. There would have been disappointment too for Ireland in Rio, no doubt with various reasons attached to it

The Olympic demise of the once all conquering United States remains puzzling and somewhat surprising given their successful background in this sport. For a country of around 325 million people, their medal tally in recent Games has been disappointing and somewhat deplorable, they need to do better, I am not sure however that they will do so in the short term.

Fourth, two other relatively ‘ring newcomers’, namely Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan continue to make their mark in the Olympic ring.

Fifth, somewhat surprisingly perhaps, France carried the torch for western Europe and congratulations to her for doing so. Scandinavian countries are well out of the medal reckoning these days.

Sixth, turning now to Asia – China apart – had a disappointing Games, with only Mongolia picking up a bronze. What is happening to deny the once very successful teams from South Korea, Japan and Thailand? Will Japan be a major force in Tokyo in 2020, one could expect them to be among the medals then, perhaps China too as surely it will not want to be outshone by its neighbour.

Seventh, the once east European powerhouse for medals, here I mean; the likes of Bulgaria, Hungary Poland and Romania, appear to be confined to ring history as well as the once successful Italians and Germans. It seems unlikely that any major resurgence will come forth from these countries in the near future, if indeed ever. They may well have had their day and also their say on the Olympic stage.

The times are changing somewhat, although the Cuban production line is still in fine working order and so successful at that. Russia itself is languishing somewhat, but its former old Soviet Union strongholds such as the independent states now such as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan continue to flex their ring muscles and are establishing themselves as contenders in their own right; although the Ukraine seems to have gone off the boil at present. It is pleasing to see these countries having success in the Olympic ring and they will be hard to derail now that they are establishing themselves in world class competition, they will be hard to stop in the short term.

Perhaps as far as western Europe is concerned, the tough qualification process is hindering their eventual Olympic results, but overall it is probably more of a case that the ‘new’ contestants are getting better all the time and setting the bar a little bit too high for some of their more established counterparts. It is good for our sport to have change and it will be interesting to see in four years time what the medallists will be like and where they will hail from.