Ace squares

This fourth day of the European Olympic Qualifying Event (OQE) was, for the most part, devoted to the semi-finals. The opportunity to appreciate all that Olympic boxing is able to offer lovers of noble art.

Of course, when you reach the last square of a OQE, some of the… games are made. Those who are still in the running have indeed validated their ticket for the Olympics and are torn by at times contrary motivations. In this case, to preserve oneself so as not to risk an injury with unforeseeable consequences, not to reveal oneself too much so as not to allow opponents who will be found later to know precisely what to expect, to continue foot on the floor to be head of series at the Games or simply to perform a maximum of general rehearsals, to continue on its momentum to take a maximum of pleasure and to store a precious confidence…

Driven by this panel of more or less compatible aspirations, some had declared forfeits, in particular because they had been affected in the previous round, others to spare themselves. Those – the overwhelming majority – who were at the rendezvous were not halfway there and did honour to the competition by delivering extremely successful performances, such as the tricolour trio Billal Bennama – Samuel Kistohurry – Sofiane Oumiha or the Englishman Pat McCormack, winner of an intense British derby, in welters, at the expense of the Irishman Aidan Walsh.
These ladies have not been left out with leaders or numbers two who have, on the whole, confirmed their rank. In particular, the Turkish Hawks Naz Cakiroglu (fly) and Busenaz Surmeneli (welter) or the Irish Michaela Walsh (feather) and Kellie Harrington (light) as well as the Welsh Lauren Price (middle). In precisely means, the Russian Zenfira Magomedalieva and the Dutch Nouchka Fontijn engaged in a duel of beauty and great clarity that saw the Batavian give in to the passion of her rival.

« It’s a great test run »

Outside the ring, congratulations were also in order. Jean-Philippe Gatien, Director of Sports of the Organising Committee of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games Organising Committee (Cojo), appreciated what he saw: « The organization of this OQE was complicated to the end because of the health crisis. It’s a superb trial run. The Organising Committee has shown exemplary adaptability in relation to the IOC Task Force. I am very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the event and the implementation of different operations. Athletes compete safely in exceptional conditions. Moreover, the product is visually very attractive. I have only heard compliments about it. This OQE meets all the requirements and offers great prospects for the future.” In this case, from the perspective of the Paris Games. « I have no doubt about the ability to integrate an Olympic boxing tournament, in 2024, in exceptional conditions, which will enhance both this beautiful sport and this very active federation, » said Jean-Philippe Gatien. France has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to organize events regardless of sports, including boxing. It was important to show the IOC our ability to adapt in a difficult context. Mission accomplished.

Alexandre Terrini
Translated by Laurence Lorenzon