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Swedish boxing legend Anna Laurell proved she is still very much at home among the world’s top female middleweight boxers after winning the Balkan Women’s Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Boxing since 1998, Laurell won gold at the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Scranton back in 2001 and more recently scooped Olympic bronze at London 2012. Returning to the international arena after the upper age limit for athletes was raised to 40, she powered through opening round challenges from Morocco’s talented Soukaina Rabih and England’s latest sensation Natasha Gale, the winner of September’s President’s Cup in Turkey.

The final saw the Swede, who trains with her husband and spars with young compatriot Love Holgersson, overcome France’s AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships bronze medallist Erika Guerrier to take a hard-earned gold.

“I was pleased with my performance in the Balkan Women’s Cup and very happy to win this well-organized tournament against a strong starting field. In the first fight I tried to use my reach, but in the second I faced Team GB’s Natasha Gale, who has become a world-class boxer in a very short time, and I focused on higher tempo boxing. I had fought Erika Guerrier a few years ago in 2012, and used my reach to beat her in the final,” said the Swedish veteran as she now readies herself for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“From Sofia I went straight to my next  event and we are now on a camp with the Swedish Olympic Committee for training and inspiration. It will be an exciting year and I will do my best to prepare for what is to come,”