Natasha Jonas, seen here beating Queen Underwood, made history by becoming the first British woman to box at the Olympics.Ian Glover | Flickr

With the Tokyo Olympics postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Britain Boxing team now has longer to prepare the provisional podium squad for the games.

GB Boxing was established in October 2008 to run the World Class Performance Programme (WCPP) for boxing and to prepare and train the boxers that compete for Great Britain at the Olympic Games.

GB Boxing Performance Director Rob McCracken has said the current group of potential Olympian boxers ‘are very focused on the fact the Olympics is just over 12 months away’ and that they ‘are extremely keen to return to something resembling normal training’ and to ‘get themselves in the best possible shape to start competing again soon.’

"The next step now...is to see the Podium boxers in some international camps in preparation for competing again"

As in a lot of sports, training sessions have been conducted through Zoom calls during lockdown and the height of COVID-19 - this has been good to maintain fitness within the team, but it has been difficult as boxing is predominantly a contact sport.

GB Boxing got the green light to return to boxing on 8th June, in accordance with the strict rules and details set out in the Government’s Elite Sport Return to Training Guidance. Initially the training sessions took place under stringent social distancing guidelines.

GB Boxing Chief Executive Matt Holt explained: ‘at the end of both of the first two weeks of the initial return to training we consulted widely with the boxers, coaches and staff and the response was universally positive.’

‘We looked at a wide number of factors including the make-up of training, the provision of medical support, social distancing and the safety of the boxers and coaches in the venue and the accommodation, and the feedback, across the board, was that things were working well. This gave the board the confidence to progress to stage two of the Government guidance and re-introduce contact training.’

Initially the boxing team started back with just 13 boxers, but nearly a month later they are almost at the point of having 24 boxers training.

Boxers have their temperature taken before they are allowed into the gym and they work in specific groups to limit mixing. Coaching staff at the Team GB gym have ensured rigorous protocols are in place, so sparring is ‘confined to designated groups of boxers and pads sessions can only take place if the coaches are in personal protective equipment (PPE) and the boxers wear a face mask.’

McCracken explained: ‘It’s a bit unusual at first but people soon get used to it and the sessions are going really well.’ ‘It’s a new way of working but people have adapted well and we have not had any issues.’

"Initially the training sessions took place under stringent social distancing guidelines"

‘The additional hygiene measures and screening of the boxers does mean there is more work involved for the coaches but they have all been brilliant and just got on with it…They are not the type of people that complain.’

‘The boxers have had to adapt to the monitoring and are expected to observe the hygiene and social distancing protocols we have in place, but they have managed well and we have not had any issues. They recognize that a lot of people are going to a lot of effort for their benefit, so they are playing their part in making sure training camps run smoothly.’


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The next step now for GB Boxing is to see the Podium boxers in some international camps in preparation for competing again. This aim is still a while away yet.

When it does happen, it will show that boxing, as we all know it, is back to some normality, and it will help bring the Olympic squad hopefuls closer to their ultimate goal of competing for Team GB in the Tokyo Olympics.

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