Saturday’s first round of finals at the AIBA European Olympic Qualification Event in Samsun, Turkey, saw Great Britain claim three gold medals while the Azeri, Lithuanian and French teams each earned a title. Boxers from Ireland and Turkey joined the list of 13 countries with confirmed quota places at Rio 2016.
The Men’s Light Flyweights (49kg), Flyweights (52kg), Bantamweights (56kg), Welterweights (69kg), Middleweights (75kg) and Light Heavyweights (81kg) were in action on Saturday, and it was Great Britain’s Galal Yafai who started his team’s gold rush against Armenia’s Artur Hovhannisyan.
“To be honest, one year ago I couldn’t have dreamed about this result. I felt comfortable today and this gold is the icing on the cake. I will try to relax a bit now and then I’ll continue my training for the Olympic Games in the same way I did ahead of Samsun,” said the young British star.
Italian Manuel Cappai controlled the first two rounds of his box-off against Spain’s Samuel Carmona, and it proved enough to earn the 23 year-old a place at his second Olympic Games. Aram Avagyan then grabbed Armenia’s third quota spot with a win over Ukraine’s Mykola Butsenko, before Azeri 23-year-old Javid Chalabiyev dominated his bantamweight final against Great Britain’s Qais Ashfaq, delivering the performance of the day for his gold medal.
British middleweight Anthony Fowler booked his place at Rio 2016 with a strong win over Germany’s Xhek Paskali’s, before France’s Christian Mbilli Assomo was awarded the gold with a walkover against Hungary’s Zoltan Harcsa.
“I have been preparing to this Qualification Event since 2013 when I won the gold at the European Confederation Youth Championships, and this title is the culmination of a lot of hard work. I will celebrate with my family in France and I know my coach will come up with the ideal training schedule for my Olympic Games,” said Assomo after receiving his gold medal.
Britain’s Anthony Fowler was delighted after booking his place at Rio 2016, saying; “It feels amazing to know I am going to the Olympic Games, such a honour. I tried to keep it long-range and outbox him, but he made it difficult, massive credit to him for the heart he showed but I felt I boxed my best today and landed some big, clean punches.”
Fowler’s teammate Muhammad earned Britain’s second gold with a flyweight-final victory over Armenia’s Narek Abgaryan, while Ireland’s Brendan Irvine can now begin his Olympic preparations after defeating Bulgaria’s defending EUBC European Confederation Champion Daniel Asenov in their box-off.
Lithuania’s reigning European Confederation Champion Eimantas Stanionis attacked from the opening bell against Italy’s 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist Vincenzo Mangiacapre, eventually taking the gold in the welterweight final after Armenia’s Vladimir Margaryan overcame Moldova’s Vasilii Belous in the box-off to earn his country’s fourth Rio quota spot.
Turkey’s Mehmet Nadir Unal gave the crowd plenty to cheer after coming through his light heavyweight box-off against Ukraine’s AIBA Youth World Champion Oleksandr Khyzhniak, before Great Britain’s Rio Test Event winner Joshua Buatsi made it a hat-trick of golds for his team with a late rally against Holland’s new Olympian Peter Mullenberg.
Winners in the AIBA European Olympic Qualification Event
Men’s 49 kg: Galal Yafai, Great Britain
Men’s 52 kg: Muhammad Ali, Great Britain
Men’s 56 kg: Javid Chalabiyev, Azerbaijan
Men’s 69 kg: Eimantas Stanionis, Lithuania
Men’s 75 kg: Christian Mbilli Assomo, France
Men’s 81 kg: Joshua Buatsi, Great Britain