It was a sense of relief for athletes of some countries to be able to overcome the odds and compete in the World women’s boxing championships here on Thursday.
While it was a matter of pride for Russian and Belarusian boxers to fight under their own flags, despite these countries’ involvement in the Ukraine war, again after missing the previous edition in Istanbul, it was a relief for the New Zealanders to take the ring after days of uncertainty.
Even as several countries boycotted the event due to the International Boxing Association’s (IBA) decision to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to take part in their own colours, the boxers and their supporters made light of the distraction to give their best.
Making her debut, Russia’s Anna Aedma lost her 52kg bout to Australian Suraci Monique in a close fight. But she was teeming with pride about donning her country’s colours. “It’s the most wonderful emotion for sure. I wanted to compete for my country and am proud that I am a Russian,” said Anna, hailing from Altai region.
“Last year we had no opportunity to compete. It is so important for our athletes to take part in the World championships,” said Anna.
The New Zealanders leaped over a different obstacle to come here. While Boxing New Zealand did not want to send its team, it allowed its athletes to make the decision.
New Zealand’s Lee-Lo Celine, who recorded a win over Trinidadian Angel George Eyed in +81 kg class, was delighted to be part of the showpiece event. “It is my first World championship, so the preparation was tough,” said Lee-Lo.
Coach Jeffery Elia, who was accompanying Lee-Lo, said, “We are happy to be here. It was our decision to participate here.”