Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New Stars of Ring Are Boxing Clever; (1) Lord of the Ring: Terry Edwards Coaches Amir Khan to a Silver Medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004 (2) Rising Star: Billy Joe Saunders (Left), in Action Here for England against the USA, Took a Step Nearer His Olympic Goal When Winning Today

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New Stars of Ring Are Boxing Clever; (1) Lord of the Ring: Terry Edwards Coaches Amir Khan to a Silver Medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004 (2) Rising Star: Billy Joe Saunders (Left), in Action Here for England against the USA, Took a Step Nearer His Olympic Goal When Winning Today

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID SMITH

BRITISH boxers will have succeeded Cuba as the sport's majorinternational amateur force by the London Olympics in 2012.

That was the bold prediction made today by Terry Edwards, the former black-cabdriver who as head coach of the British squad is now steering our youngfighters towards unprecedented success.

Cuba's reputation was maintained at the Athens Games where their men claimedfive of boxing's 11 gold medals.

Yet Edwards insisted: "In 2012 I believe GB will be the new Cuba. I promise youthat by then our boxers will finish higher in the medal table than Cuba's." Hewas speaking as the penultimate 2008 Olympic qualifying tournament for Europeannations got under way at the Italian seaside resort of Roseto degli Abruzzinear Pescara and Britain is already looking good for Beijing.

The first round of qualification, last October's World Championships inChicago, resulted in unprecedented success for the national senior squad.

Frankie Gavin (lightweight)winner of Britain's first-ever world amateur gold medalbronze medallists Bradley Saunders (light-welter) and Joe Murray (bantam), andquarterfinalist Tony Jeffries (light-heavy), all booked their places for China.

Four guaranteed contenders in the Far East compares most favourably with thetwo Britain sent to Sydney in 2000eventual super-heavyweight gold medal winner Audley Harrison and Courtney Fryand only a single ring representative in Athens in lightweight silver medallistAmir Khan.

But Edwards believes at least another three Brits can join the team if theyfulfil their potential either in Italy or at the final qualifier in Athens inApril.

More than 250 boxers are chasing just 25 Olympic places on offer this week, butEdwards insisted: "Our preparations have gone well and I'm excited about theyoungsters coming through." One of those, 18-year-old welterweight Billy JoeSaunders, moved to within two wins of securing an Olympics place after anailbiting 13-12 victory over Poland's Michal Starbala in the penultimatequalifying tournament today.

Saunders, originally on boxing's development squad for 2012, is proving such asensation that he was promoted ahead of weight rival Neil Perkins, the nationalteam captain, to box in Italy. …

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