The Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games are now upon us, with each qualified boxer eagerly anticipating possible golden glory.
This is one of the most important competitions of the year for the youth boxers, and the teams are acclimatizing to the Chinese city and its time zone.
The lone qualification event for Nanjing 2014 for both genders was held at the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria in April where many new stars were created.
A record number of boxers competed in the Championships, which was the first worldwide event of 2014.
All of the 78 quota places for Nanjing 2014 were filled by competitors in Sofia.
36 nations have at least one boxer in the qualification list, with Italy, Kazakhstan, United States of America, Turkey and Ukraine each boasting four or five competing athletes, while Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cuba, Great-Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Russia and Uzbekistan will all have three athletes in action in Nanjing.
April’s competition in Sofia was a great promotion of boxing with spectacular battles and amazing fighting spirit displayed in detail.
AIBA’s Youth World Boxing Championships has proved the future of our sport is secure in rich talent, and will be for a very long time as talents shone from all over the globe in the capital city of Bulgaria.
With each competitor taking part in the Youth Olympic Games, here is our recap of the action in Sofia, with every boxer mentioned a gold medal contender in Nanjing.
Athlete of the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships
Kazakhstan’s defending AIBA Junior World Champion and current ASBC Asian Youth Continental Champion 17-year-old Abylaykhan Zhussupov had an extremely arduos draw in the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships, but the young Kazakh boxer was able to complete his tough mission and get the gold medal.
Zhussupov started his long way to the glory against US Youth National Champion Isidro Ochoa, where following an equal first round, the Kazakh boxer subdued the US hope.
Russia’s EUBC European Junior Champion Tamerlan Batdiyev was also a dangerous opponent for the 17-year-old Kazakh, but Zhussupov turned up the heat and eliminated his strong European rival in the second preliminary round.
Moldova’s EUBC European Junior Championships silver medallist Dorin Bucsa who was unbeaten prior to the championships in 2014, became the only one in Sofia who could almost match the same level of boxing as Zhussupov, who needed to perform at his very best to beat his European opponent.
Hungary’s top youth athlete Richard Konnyu was another strong opponent in the quarter-finals, and Zhussupov had to perform at his best once again to eliminate his technical European rival.
Uzbekistan’s Agalarov Youth Cup winner 17-year-old Ikboljon Kholdarov was his opponent in the semi-finals, but his Central Asian rival could not find the best fighting distance against Zhussupov.
Romania’s AIBA Junior World Championships quarter-finalist Arsen Mustafa has not competed in too many international competitions in the recent two years, but his form was excellent in Sofia and he proved his strength en route to the final.
The Romanian boxer struggled at the last hurdle however, as Zhussupov controlled the first two rounds which was the main difference between them on the scorecards.
Team Rankings in the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships
Kazakhstan topped the team rankings in all of the main worldwide and continental competitions in 2013, and their current youth squad continued that record in the Sofia event.
United States of America placed second in Sofia, where their athletes bagged three gold medals which was their record haul in the history of the championships.
Russia finished third in the team rankings due their two gold medals in the men’s part of the competition.
Following several unexpected losses in the preliminaries, their men’s youth squad was able to perform much better in the latter stages of the tournament.
Uzbekistan also provided remarkable performance in Sofia winning four medals in the championships.
Further strong nations secured their places in the Top 10 such as Ukraine, Great Britain, Cuba, hosts Bulgaria, Turkey and Hungary.
Cuba sent only three men’s boxers to Sofia but they ranked also in the Top 10 due the excellent performance of their young hopes who achieved two golds in the qualification event.
Most developed teams of the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships
The Croatian youth team provided the biggest surprise of the championships, as Luka Prtenjaca, Luka Plantic and Toni Filipi all claimed silver medals in Sofia.
Hungary secured just one quota for the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games, but their new youth squad was able to earn the maximum number of three qualification places for Nanjing 2014.
Japan will be hosting the Olympic Games in 2020 in Tokyo, and their new youth hopes are all clamouring to be in position to represent their nation in the historic event.
Chinese Taipei’s women’s youth squad shocked the world in Sofia, while the Turkish, the Armenian and the Italian women are also developing their boxing prowess at impressive rates.
Surprise of the tournament
The finalists of the Light Flyweight class (49 kg) were relatively unknown boxers who secured their places in the squad in the last national qualifiers.
Kazakhstan’s Bekzat Sattarkhanov Youth Memorial Tournament winner Shalkar Aikynbay and Uzbekistan’s ASBC Asian Junior Continental Championships silver medallist Sulaymon Latipov were not the top favourites in their category, but both athletes advanced to the final following their top level performances.
Their gold medal bout was a close one, and finally the Kazakh boxer’s hand was raised after the final gong in Sofia.
Ones to watch in the future
US star AIBA Junior World Champion Shakur Stevenson is only 17, but the US Flyweight class (52 kg) boxer triumphed over England’s rising hope Muhammed Ali in the final of the AIBA Youth World Championships.
Tough and talented boxer Jajaira Gonzalez secured a further gold medal for the US delegation following her triumph over Sweden’s top favourite Agnes Alexiusson.
Quota holders in the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics
Four men’s boxers from Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan have qualified to the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics, but the maximum number of quota places per NOC are three therefore those nations had to decide which athletes were registered to the Games.
In the women’s part of the championships, both Chinese Taipei and Turkey were above the maximum allotted number of two registered athletes.
All of the AIBA confederations qualified at least one boxer for Nanjing 2014, where the best 18 women’s and 60 men’s athletes will take part in the Games.
Fact/stat of the tournament
A record number of 523 boxers competed in the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships and all of the confederations sent their top athletes to Sofia, Bulgaria in April.
Boxers who were born in 1996 and 1997 were eligible to compete in the AIBA Youth World Championships.
Some of the athletes could qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but most of them are focusing for Tokyo 2020.
Two of the women and three of the men’s winners in the Sofia championships were born in the year of 1997 which means they can compete at the youth level in 2015 as well.