The first women’s tournament of the year, the Nation’s Cup, took place in the small Serbian town of Ruma from 8-12 January, with Greece’s female flyweight Foteini Plea getting the Olympic year off to a flying start, taking gold against a strong field.
It was the fifth edition of the Cup, and served as an ideal proving ground for the forthcoming AIBA Youth Continental events. Still only 17 years-old, Plea spoke to AIBA as she looked ahead to an important year.
How does it feel to have beaten four top rivals in such a strong international event?
I am very pleased with my results and winning the gold medal in such a big a competition like this is a huge achievement for me and the Greek team. I attacked well and was able to stay strong all the way through to the final. All my opponents were experienced boxers and used different techniques, which meant four very different and interesting matches.
When did you begin boxing and who was your biggest influence?
I have been boxing since 2008 and come from a boxing family. Boxing was always talked about at home and I thought it sounded interesting so I started practicing, first for fun and then, when I realised I was good at it, I started to take it more seriously. Now it’s my life. My father was a national champion in Greece some years ago and now he is one of the national coaches. Of course, he is my coach too.
What is a typical day for you?
I get up at 6:30am every morning and train until 7:30am. Then I have some breakfast and go to school, come back and do my homework. At 7pm I go training again until 9:45pm and then I can relax back at home. I usually train with my sister Chrysoula and my good friend Nikoleta Pita who has won a lot of international medals. Both girls were with me at the Nations Women’s Cup in Serbia, but I also spar with the male boxers at my age and weight.
What is your biggest strength in the ring?
I like to switch my movements in the ring following my coach’s instructions, depending on the opponent’s tactics in each match.
How is the boxing world in Greece today?
Boxing in Greece is at a good level. We have a good presence at international tournaments but we are always trying to do better. It’s nice to see more and more people in Greece taking up boxing in recent years and giving the sport a better profile.
What events are you looking forward to in 2016?
My priority is to participate in more tournaments in order to prepare myself as well as I can for the EUBC European Confederation Women’s Youth Boxing Championships which will be held in September.
Do you dream of gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games?
The Olympics is the dream of every athlete, me included, but there is a mountain in the way to overcome first if I’m to realise it. It could be 2020 or 2024, but it is my dream.