The city of Memphis held the US Women’s National Olympic Trials at the end of October, a key stepping stone for the country’s female boxers on the road to Rio 2016. The Cook Convention Center saw six days of top-level competition in the three Olympic weight classes: flyweight (51kg), lightweight (60kg) and middleweight (75 kg).
The 20 year-old London 2012 Olympic champion Claressa Shields won all four of her key bouts, including tough matches against Raquel Miller and Chatiqua Hemingway, putting her in pole position to defend her title next year in Rio.
“It feels great to have won in such a dominant fashion through the Olympic Trials. I trained for 6-8 hours a day for 72 days and prepared my mind and body for the battles. Earlier in the year me and Chatiqua met in a tournament in which I was ill and the fight was a split decision. My goal at the Olympic Trials was to dominate and win unanimously against her. I did it, and my coach Leon Lawson called it my best performance of the year,” said US star Claressa Shields after her final.
Defending AIBA Women’s World Champion Marlen Esparza was the early flyweight favourite, but she fell to Virginia Fuchs in the third round of the winners bracket, putting Rio 2016 out of reach for the London 2012 bronze medalist. Fuchs went on to beat Christina Cruz in the final. Experienced Mikaela Mayer defeated Jajaira Gonzalez, the 18 year-old AIBA Women’s Youth World and Youth Olympic champion, in a box-off for the lightweight class.
“This is the best feeling I have ever had in my entire life. It would not be a Mikaela Mayer story if it did not end like this. Losing in the finals and falling in to the challengers bracket, that is how my life has always been. Perseverance has always been my key word. Hat’s off to Jajaira, she was definitely one of the toughest opponent I have had in a long time,” said a victorious Mikaela Mayer.
List of the winners in the US Women’s National Olympic Trials
51 kg: Virginia Fuchs, Texas
60 kg: Mikaela Mayer, California
75 kg: Claressa Shields, Michigan