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Gold hunt is life of Riley on Youth Olympics bid

West Hams top light-heavyweight prospect Vidal Riley (left) has flown out to China for the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing  Pic: Chris Bevan Photography West Hams top light-heavyweight prospect Vidal Riley (left) has flown out to China for the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing Pic: Chris Bevan Photography

Len Whaley
Thursday, August 14, 2014
6:00 PM

Hammers hopeful jets off to China

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Viddal Riley, the talented 17-year-old West Ham boxer, flew out to Nanjing, China at the weekend looking to strike gold at the Youth Olympics Games.

The 81kg light-heavyweight,already recognised as one of the top prospects in Great Britain, told me: “I will be out there doing my best – but I am definitely going for gold.”

Riley’s best has been good enough to win the West Hammer seven national awards to date as well as make a big impact on the international scene.

In November, he won a silver medal at the European Youth Championships in Anapa, Russia – only eight months after returning from a two-year break from the sport caused by an injury suffered in a playground accident.

He lost the European final on a controversial verdict to Russian rival Dmitriy Marutkin, after he had eliminated difficult opponents from the likes of Ukraine, Albania and Georgia.

Riley also won three of his four bouts at the World Championships staged in Sofia, Bulgaria in April, losing only on a split verdict to Norway’s Vegar Tregren.

He eliminated Poland’s Rafal Staszewski in the battle to qualify for the Youth Olympics and the articulate sports science student at the City and Islington College is under no illusion about the task in the competition which gets underway this coming weekend.

“Standards will certainly be high with the best youngsters in the world in action,” said Riley.

“I may get a return against Tregren, and I would like a chance to reverse that decision,” added the prospect, who is coached at the West Ham club’s Plaistow gym by Mick Driscoll.

Riley, a talented boxer with a powerful punch, has also been tipped to continue Great Britain’s success in the ring and make a bid for a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

But the fighter himself has his doubts, adding: “It would be fantastic to go to Rio, but getting on to the GB senior squad and qualifying in less than two years is a tough task.”

That dream is for the future, but for the present Riley will only be concentrating on adding to his growing medal collection in China as the world’s top teenagers go on parade at the 2014 Youth Olympics, with the boxing starting Saturday week (August 23).

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