UEL’s Okolie books Olympic spot
PUBLISHED: 13:06 16 April 2016 | UPDATED: 13:28 16 April 2016
East London heavyweight on a high
UEL’s Lawrence Okolie booked his place at the Rio Olympics on a memorable day for GB boxing yesterday.
Hackney heavyweight Okolie, a former Repton amateur who now boxes for the Dagenham club, beat Azerbaijan’s Abdulkadir Abdullayev in his semi-final at the European qualifying event in Turkey.
And that ensured he was one of eight British boxers to secure spots on the plane to Brazil this summer, with London 2012 gold medalist Nicola Adams leading the charge.
Okolie had produced a first-round stoppage against a Turkish rival in his first bout of the week, then dug deep to defeat the world number eight from Holland on Tuesday and another Turk a day later.
A fourth successive win of the week over world number three Abdullayev, with arguably the performance of the night, was enough for Okolie to achieve his Olympic dream, in only his 23rd amateur outing, and he will now bid for gold before returning with the triumphant squad.
Posting on Instagram, Okolie said: “Silver medal and Olympic place isn’t enough...I want GOLD.”
New IBF world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, a gold medalist at London 2012, passed on his congratulations on social media.
He tweeted: “Unbelievable news from @gbboxing everydone is doing so well! Keep pushing! #Road2Rio @Lawrence_tko #OkoliesOutTheCage #TeamGB.”
Meanwhile, Adams outpointed Norway’s Marielle Hansen in her semi-final to secure a women’s flyweight (48-51kg) spot, before Galal Yafai, Qais Ashfaq, Muhammad Ali, Joe Cordina, Josh Buatsi and Joe Joyce also produced semi-final wins.
Light-flyweight Yafai beat Spain’s Samuel Carmona Heredia, while bantamweight Ashfaq saw off Ukraine’s Mykola Butsenko.
Flyweight Ali defeated Bulgarian rival Daniel Asenonv and lightweight Cordina beat Ireland’s David Joyce, while light-heavyweight Buatsi got the better of Ukraine’s Oleksandr Khyzhniak and fellow Londoner Joyce saw off Hungary’s Istvan Bernath at super-heavyweight.
Middleweight Anthony Fowler became the ninth Brit to qualify after winning his bronze-medal bout on Saturday.