THERE will be good news and bad news. Since the unprecedented postponement of the Olympics to July of this year, there have been rumours that the Games will be cancelled altogether, rumours then swiftly denied. That cycle is likely to continue. For athletes waiting to play their part in the biggest show on earth, it’s an unnerving time.
Peter McGrail, in the last session of amateur boxing to take place in the UK, won his place at the Tokyo Games last year. Buffeted by these rumours, McGrail is holding firm. He will pursue his Olympic dream.
“The little mad thing came up in the Times, saying how it was getting cancelled. Then they [the IOC] come out and said it was a load of rubbish. Obviously when something like that pops up, I’ve got people sending me screen shots and messaging me. Got phone calls off some of the lads and we’re all like, ‘What’s happening here?’ Obviously it’s scary but the way I’m looking at it and the way all the lads are looking at it is: it’s going ahead,” McGrail tells Boxing News. “Because you need to be on it. We all think it’s going to happen because of how just much money Japan is going to lose out on. Even if you’re scared that it’s not going to happen, we still need to be on it. Because you can’t take your foot off the gas thinking it’s not going to happen, not put 100 percent work in as though it wasn’t happening, and then it does happen. We’re all working hard as though the qualifiers are happening and the Olympics are happening. All of us, the lads and the girls, we’ll all be ready when the time comes definitely.
“So it’s looking good. We’re just all seeing as if it’s definitely going ahead so we’re all 100 percent ready.”
McGrail is one of Britain’s leading hopes for an Olympic medal. But the 24-year-old’s talents make him an enticing prospect for any promotional promoter to sign. However, for the time being, he is resisting any temptation to leave the amateur sport. “Even to turn over, it’s not really that good a time to do it anyway. There’s not even that many shows happening if you was looking to turn over. I never really contemplated it because I’ve waited from Rio, it was like I’ve waited four years I may as well [wait another.] Because I already had my spot and I’d already waited four years. I know how big the Olympic Games is and I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics since I was a kid anyway,” Peter said. “Hopefully there’s crowds back [later this year]. That’s what I’m looking forward to the most. For years now we’ve boxed with no one there – boxing in big, heavy fights, World semis and that, European finals and that, with just your family there to support you and the lads. Whereas fighting pro in the Echo, where you’ve got a thousand Scousers cheering you on, that’s what I’m looking forward to the most. That would be amazing.”
“It’s just put us back a year, me and the lads. It’s one of them. It’s the Olympic Games. It’s such a big thing in boxing. You see world champions now who have been to the Olympics or won an Olympic medal, the majority of them say that getting an Olympic medal was better than winning world titles,” he added. “I can’t say because I haven’t won a world title yet but when I do I’ll let you know which one I enjoyed the most!”
McGrail has medalled at every major championship in this Olympic cycle. “I know everybody’s got a level of respect for each other [at 57kgs]. I believe I’m one of the best. I’ve been on the podium the last two Worlds. I’ve had another year now of growing into the weight again, getting my strength behind me and learning my craft a bit more, I’m fully confident going into these Olympics,” he said. “We’re all young and hungry, one of the best teams for years I think.”
They just have to hope now that they will indeed get the chance to show it at Tokyo.