Boxing

GB boxers return to Tokyo 2020 training

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BySportsbeat
11/06/2020 at 16:54 | Updated 11/06/2020 at 16:54

Hand wraps have been replaced by hand sanitiser and sparring isn't allowed yet but Britain's best amateur boxers are back in training for the Tokyo Olympics.

A selected group of 12 podium-level pugilists have gone through a successful four-day camp at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

In accordance with UK Sport guidance, athletes check their temperatures from the moment they wake up and split into groups of six for morning runs.

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The chosen dozen have been able to shadow box and hit bags and are given tactical pointers from two metres away by coaches wearing masks.

Sparring is still a fortnight or so away but returning to the programme run by Rob McCracken, Anthony Joshua's coach, has been a relief.

"On a normal day coaches would be giving us advice from two metres away anyway so it isn't that different," said world middleweight champion Lauren Price.

"None of us are going to be competing soon - maybe not again this year - so there's no rush, I'm just happy to be in the mix.

"I haven't sparred since March so when we do come back, it's going to have to be quite technical and about avoiding injuries.

"There's a lot of ring rust and as a boxer, you have to be in that close contact scenario to get your rhythm back."

Among the 12 are Fraser Clarke, set to succeed Joshua, Audley Harrison and Joe Joyce in the hallowed Team GB super-heavyweight slot.

Great Britain's boxers were caught up in the eye of the COVID-19 storm with their Olympic qualifier at the Copper Box postponed at the midway point.

Flyweight Galal Yafai and featherweight Peter McGrail got their chance and did the necessary to seal an Olympic quota place for Team GB with minutes to spare.

Yafai said: "I'd qualified and then it was like 'right, it's lockdown, you can't celebrate and you have to abide by these rules'.

"It was pretty tough for me at first, but over time it got easier and I just had to cope with it.

"I live in a small apartment in Solihull which isn't ideal when you're locked away, but I tried to keep training and running as much as I could.

"I missed training in Sheffield with the boys so much, and I'm really looking forward to going back."

© Sportsbeat 2020

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