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22 February 2012
Promising boxing stars from underdeveloped nations have come to Wales to get the best possible chance of qualifying for the London Olympics.
The boxers, who include women for the first time in Olympic history, are attending a demanding three-week event hosted by the University. They hope to get in shape for Olympic pre-qualifying competitions, so they can return to the UK this summer to compete at London 2012.
The ‘Road to London’ training camp, run by the Amateur International Boxing Association and supported by the Welsh Amateur Boxing Association, will be using the University’s training training facilities. The Welsh Government, Sport Wales and Cardiff Council are all backing the venture, which sees Wales pulling together for the benefit of less wealthy nations.
Some 51 male boxers and 17 women have signed up for the high-intensity training regime. They represent 44 countries, taking in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, Eastern Europe, Asia and the island nations of Oceania. The boxers have a full training programme planned for them, but there will also be time to tour Cardiff and get a sample of Welsh culture.
Three boxing rings have been set up at the University’s Sport Training Village, along with 15 punchbags and the latest in conditioning equipment. The training schedule will include conditioning work, bag and pad work, and sparring, under the expert eye of an experienced coaching team. The largest of the boxing rings is the only Olympic specification ring in Wales at the moment. It will remain in Wales after the training camp, part of the Olympic legacy. Welsh amateur boxers will also be training with the overseas athletes, giving them the chance to match up against some of the very best in the world. The international athletes are also benefiting from physiotherapy provided by students at the School of Healthcare Studies.
Head coach for the camp is the National Coach for Wales, Colin Jones, himself an Olympic boxing competitor from the 1976 Games in Montreal. Colin fought twice for the World Welterweight Championship and is also a former Welsh Sports Personality of the Year.
The boxers were welcomed to Cardiff by the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor, Estates, Professor Tim Wess and the Welsh Government Sports Minister Huw Lewis.
Mr Lewis told the visitors: "I’d like to extend the warmest of Welsh welcomes to the athletes, coaches and support staff from so many countries. We were delighted when the world governing body AIBA, chose Cardiff University (ahead of other cities in the UK) as its base for London 2012 preparations. The people of Wales are delighted to welcome the world’s best amateur boxers to Wales and we look forward to developing a longstanding relationship with International Amateur Boxing."
Stuart Vanstone, Head of Cardiff University Sport said: "We are delighted to be welcoming the athletes of the ‘Road to London’ training camp to Cardiff University. These are all very promising fighters – but many are from countries where training resources are limited. We are putting the best Welsh expertise and facilities at their disposal, to give them the best possible shot at making it to London."
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