IT’S been brilliant for the team to perform the way they have out here in Tokyo. This has been a long time coming, years and years of keeping this team together, the uncertainty over the last 15 months has been difficult with the preparation. For everyone. The talent was always in this team. Frazer Clarke was here 12 years, Pat McCormack eight years, Ben Whittaker six years, Lauren Price five years. A lot of time has been put into it by the boxers over the years. If they’re talented and you’ve got time to work with them, the boxers can achieve great things, which is what they’ve done in Tokyo.
It was difficult. The training camps, you couldn’t do them, the tournaments were minimal, if any. But they are very talented and resilient. They responded brilliantly. The other boxers in the programme have become their sparring partners to prepare them for the Olympics in the last few weeks and months. That has been vital and really helped. Both teams, with the Paris team coming through, and obviously this team going back for virtually a decade, they’ve come out here and shown what they can do. They performed tremendously well.
There has been loads of highlights. Galal Yafai was phenomenal. I was with him in Rio when he lost to the Cuban in a close one in his second fight. I told him to stay and told him he could do it. He would say: ‘Are you sure? Are you sure?’ I told him with his ability he could do the right things. It’s just nice to see the boxers – not all of them have won medals, there have been disappointments, that’s the way boxing is, they understand it – but certainly the majority of the team have performed magnificently and won medals.
The women have done absolutely brilliantly with 50 per cent medals from four athletes. We have two medals from Lauren Price and Karriss Artingstall. The other two girls who didn’t win are the newest on the programme, they’ve had 20 months. Charley Davison left boxing young, having achieved a lot, came back into the sport and in 20 months has achieved remarkable things to qualify in one qualifier in Europe and then represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games. Likewise, Caroline Dubois who has achieved lots of things as a Youth and Junior, came in for 20 months, like Charley; for her to get to the quarter-finals and lose a 3-2 split, she is young, she will respond and come back. They are both big talents and I am sure they will have a great future. The women’s part of the team did remarkably well.
You’re in a sport where the whole world is good at boxing. The whole world has pretty much gone full-time over the last 10-15 years. Boxing is a hugely difficult sport to win an Olympic medal. An Olympic medal in boxing to a GB boxer is everything. It’s hugely important for their profile and platform moving forward. Whatever colour it is, it’s brilliant. They all want a gold, all of them to follow in footsteps of those that have gone before like Anthony Joshua, Luke Campbell and Nicola Adams. But we celebrate bronze medals. It’s a massive achievement in what is a hugely tough and competitive sport. We will celebrate a silver as much as we will bronze and a gold. An Olympic medal in boxing is a brilliant achievement for the team and the boxer.
It’s bad for your health this Olympic boxing! This is my third one, it’s like being on a rollercoaster before every contest and after it. I enjoy working with the team, the boxers are tremendous. It’s a privileged position, I have always said that since day one; it’s a wonderful thing to be a part of. The coaches, boxers, the staff at GB are something else. I’ll do what I can and I’ll be there for GB. I’m happy to stay in my role until someone boots me out.
It’s due to teamwork, good leadership, talent and being allowed to develop the talent in the time that you’ve got. Being able to be flexible and to move boxers into your programme and onto the Podium Potential squad as quickly as possible if they have that ability. Get them out to training camps and out to compete and start to build something. The difficulty over the last few years with the uncertainly of Covid a lot of sports haven’t done the usual training camps, which is vital. It’s been remarkable that the team has delivered what they have, with the preparation they have had. It’s a brilliant achievement from everyone concerned. If you’ve got the right athletes, and the time to work with them then you can achieve anything. 11 boxers out here and they’ve won six medals, and on another day it could have been more. It’s a fabulous achievement from the coaches, the boxers and everyone who supports the programme.
It’s been hugely challenging. The last 18 months, we’ve not been able to do a lot; where the 18 months before Rio, we were going to tournaments and training camps. Covid impacted on everyone’s life, not just sport. It’s been difficult and challenging times. To get the team here in one piece and to perform has been remarkable. There is a lot of work to do to speed people up going into the Paris cycle. But we have the expertise and the right people who can guide them to make that happen. Sport is challenging. On the back of the times we have had, it’s a tough ask going into the next cycle for the team. But it’s a talented team, we have boxers who have had decent Olympic experience. They will look at the Tokyo team and do what their team-mates have done out here. Some of the team have been out here three weeks sparring and assisting those who have boxed here. People like Rosie Eccles missed out; Lewis Richardson just missed out on selection, losing to the Ukrainian in qualifying. There are challenging times but one that GB Boxing is up to. We have expertise and talent to come through.