By Matt Bevan (@MBevs68)
There will be a good mix of youth and experience, as Team GB will travel to Baku in Azerbaijan next month to compete in the European Games. They have announced a 9 man squad who will all be well in with a shout of returning to these shores with a medal.
Coach Rob McCracken will be joined by Commonwealth Games gold medallists Joe Joyce and Antony Fowler, as well as Sam Maxwell and Qais Ashfaq. All four will be entering the tournament of the back of reasonable success in the World Series of Boxing.
Recent ABA Champions Luke McCormack, Muhammad Ali and Joshua Buatsi will also travel to Azerbaijan, with Josh Kelly and Harvey Horn rounding off a strong squad.
This will be the first European Games and a medal will secure a place at the World Championships in Qatar later this year, which also acts as one of the final qualifying events for the Olympic Games in Rio next year.
Fowler said: “My main goal is still to qualify for the Olympic Games next year in Rio and since the WSB; this is the first step along the line for that. If you get a medal, you qualify for the World’s and then medal again there and you know that you’re on that plane. This is a very important tournament and I will be giving it my all out there.”
Joyce added: “It will be another great experience to fight in Baku at the European Games, similar to when I fought in Glasgow at the Commonwealth’s last year, hopefully with the same result. I’m very experienced now at this level, so I know what to do to keep winning at this level and this is another stepping stone towards qualifying for the Olympics next year.”
Ashfaq concluded: “I’m really looking forward to competing at another Major Championships for Team GB and showing what I’m made of and leaving Baku with a gold medal. This is the first version of the European Games and to go over and become the first person to win it, would be amazing and I’m sure everyone on the squad is striving to achieve the same thing.”
The squad will join the women’s team that was announced last month, which is led by Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams and former World champion Savannah Marshall. Last year’s World silver medallists Lisa Whiteside and Sandy Ryan will also compete at the Games, which begin on the 12th June and run till the 28th.
The Full List and Weight categories
Harvey Horn (49KG), 19, Abridge
Muhammad Ali (52KG), 19, Keighley
Qais Ashfaq (56KG), 22, Leeds
Luke McCormack (60KG), 19, Birtley, Tyne & Wear
Sam Maxwell (64KG), 26, Liverpool
Josh Kelly (69KG), 21, Sunderland
Antony Fowler (75KG), 24, Liverpool
Joshua Buatsi (81KG), 22, South Croydon
Joe Joyce (91+KG), 29, London
Nicola Adams (51KG), 32, Leeds
Lisa Whiteside (54KG), 29, Preston
Sandy Ryan (64KG), 21, Derby
Savannah Marshall (75KG), 23, Hartlepool