|Boxers in Brazil at final qualifier|
Guardian Sports Reporter
Published: May 03, 2012
The chances of earning qualifying spots in this year’s Olympic Games are not great, but that’s not stopping the country’s two top amateur boxers from stepping into the ring and giving it a shot.
Valentino Knowles and Carl Hield are off to the International Boxing Association (AIBA) qualifier today. This is the final qualifying shot boxers from this region will have, if they wish to compete in the London Olympic Games. The qualifying event will run May 4-13 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Boxers will fight out of 10 weight divisions but only 38 spots are up for grabs for fighters in this region.
Knowles will fight out of the 60 kilo class. According to the governing body, only five spots are available in the Americas for this weight class. There are five open spots in the 69 kilo class, which Hield fights out of. National Boxing Head Coach Andre Seymour likes the chances that both boxers have and believes that the two can qualify.
Seymour said: “We are ready. We just came back from Cuba. We worked extremely hard over there. We know that there are a lot of boxers who we will have to look out for. They include the Cuban, Mexican and boxers from Argentina, but I am looking for both boxers to qualify. They will have to finish in the top five. We aren’t looking for just one boxer to qualify, we are trying to get two of those boxers in. We have to work very hard. We can’t and won’t take any boxer easy. We are going in there ready.”
Hield is ranked at number 34 in the world in his class and Knowles is at 27 in the world. The two, along with Seymour, just wrapped up training in Cuba on Sunday. Seymour said he likes what he saw from the training camp but awaits the release for the draw, to boost his confidence. A technical meeting is set for Friday and the event will start on Saturday.
“Both of the boxers are in very good shape,” said Seymour. “After Valentino won the medal at the Pan American Games, we know the other boxers from the different countries are coming looking for him. The boxers from Argentina and Mexico are the two boxers on our radar. We can’t forget the Cuban boxer, who was the world champion. They are all tough boxers. The U.S. boxer is still there as well, so we have to go out there and do our part. We will need to take it one bout at a time. I hope that we have a good boxer in the opening draw. Once we have a good draw I will be looking forward to us qualifying, but everything will start on the 6th (of May). I need both Carl and Valentino to qualify. That is our dream. Once we qualify our aim is to go to the Olympics and get a medal.”
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games is set for July 27-August 12 in London, England.