Saturday 21 April 2018

Boxing: Ward's rejection hard to stomach

Eamonn Sweeney

Joe Ward's Olympic dream ended last week when the AIBA said that "the next best boxer from the 2011 World Championships is supposed to be selected. Following the Competition Protocol list, we regrettably found out that your boxer does not meet the qualification to be the next best boxer in your continent."

The problem with this statement is that the boxer chosen for the wild-card slot, Bosko Dragovic of Montenegro, doesn't meet the qualification either. At those championships, light-heavyweight Dragovic was eliminated in the second round. Ward went one step further, to the quarter-finals, as did non-qualifying Europeans, Enrico Koelling of Germany and Dzemal Bosnjak of Bosnia.

Koelling subsequently qualified for London at the final European qualifier in Trabzon, a tournament at which Dragovic lost a second-round bout by ten points to England's Callum Smith and Bosnjak didn't compete. Ward lost a disputed second-round decision to Turkey's Bahram Muzaffer who went on to win the competition. Given that he is the reigning European champion and had won the prestigious Chemistry Cup just before the Trabzon event, Ward would seem to have had an almost unassailable case for the slot.

Perhaps Dragovic got his slot because of the Tripartite Commission's right to give a slot to under-represented nations and the AIBA simply neglected to mention this? Afraid not. Those wild-card places can only go to nations who had six athletes or fewer at the last two Olympics. At the 2008 games, Montenegro had six individual competitors and a water polo squad of 13 players. They've got a team of 33 going to London.

It all stinks to high heaven.

Sunday Indo Sport

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