Italy head medals table at EUBC Championships in Cascia – by Michael O’Neill

(AUG 13, 2017)  The 2017 EUBC European Union championships have ended in Cascia, Italy with the host nation taking most medals.  The event saw some 87 athletes from 19 countries take part : Bulgaria, Czech Republic, England, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, Wales, Holland and Croatia. [Photo credit:  EUBC Facebook]

Though the standard was high, it fell short of what we would have seen had so many boxers not left the ‘amateur’ ranks in the past 18 months thanks to the failure of the AIBA to adequately promote the women’s sport.

Italy won most medals with nine : one Gold (Mesiano 57 Kg), six bronze (Mostarda 51 Kg, Ghilardi +81 Kg, Testa 60 Kg, Floridia 69 Kg, Canfora 75 Kg and LaBarbera (81 Kg) plus two silvers (Bonatti 48 Kg, Donniacuo 64 Kg), whilst the ‘Best Boxer Award’ went to Mesiano.

One of the outstanding finals of the competition saw Gold go to Ireland’s Michaela Walsh at the non-Olympic weight of 54kg. Ironically Walsh was not even selected on the original team but was one of three added by the IABA Central Council after their late intervention.

Another bone of contention was that the team was split up for pre-tournament sparring with three of the team (Michaela Walsh, Kristina O’Hara and Ciara Ginty) forced to train in Dublin whilst the remainder went to a training camp in France. Seems odd that three are forced to train at home as one would have thought that “Team Bonding” and team spirit would have been better served by them all being together at the training camp.

That alas is part of an ongoing battle within the Irish association as the Olympic weights are funded by Sport Ireland on behalf of the High Performance Unit whilst the IABA Central Council chose to add the other three but would not pay for their “sparring camp” travel and expenses in France.

Clearly some of the Irish team are seen as more equal than others so Sport Ireland, the HPU team and the Central Council MUST work together and find funding for the whole team in future and that includes sparring and not just for the major championships. Would the Irish men’s team have been treated like that?

Had there not been the late Central Council intervention in selecting the non-funded trio then of course Michaela Walsh would not have struck Gold and Team Ireland would have been restricted to a Silver from Kelly Harrington at 60kg and a bronze for Grainne Walsh at 69kg. Kelly had already eliminated “host nation favourite” Irma Testa from the championships, at the semi-final stage.

Having lost a close final to Finland’s Mira Potkonen (a bronze medallist in Rio), she had this to say on social media:

“So after all my hard work over the last few months preparing for the European Union Championships I had to settle for Silver. I had 4 great fights in a week with Poland, Denmark, Italy and Finland. Now 1 door has shut another begins to open 🙂 2016 World Silver Medal 64kg 2017 European Union Silver 60kg

If you all knew how I started in early life you would be very pleased to see how 1 turned life around, things happen people change, If I can do it then anyone can do it.

Spartacus Tullamore boxer Grainne Walsh also used social media to express her thanks to those who helped her to bronze:

“EU Championships Bronze Medallist 2017 – excellent tournament and a great team. Proud to be part of it all. Looking forward to the big majors next year, top of the podium is where I’m going! Thank you to everyone for the kind messages and comments. My coach Dima and my family. Appreciate it all. Great to have my Dad there to support me too. And a big thank you to Aura Leisure Centre Tullamore for giving me the use of their excellent facilities to help me prepare. Big things to come in the future.

Michaela Walsh penned: “When all your dreams come true.  EUROPEAN CHAMPION 2017. Thank you to everyone who has supported me, donated me money, prayed for me and believed in me. I put my life into this and there will be more moments like this for me in the future because I am reaping the rewards from my hard work. For now I will enjoy this moment, yesterday was the best day of my life. God is great!!

Speaking after the event, EUBC President Franco Falcinelli had this to say:

“The Elite Women’s European Union Championships have just ended. They were very well organized and a success, as well as an important technical review of the best boxers of the 20 countries that took part in this eighth edition.

The city of Cascia, which hosted the event, responded with great affection to the presence of many young Europeans girls, and Mayor Mario de Carolis thanked all delegations for their demonstration of concrete solidarity with the populations that a year ago were severely affected by a strong earthquake. Olympic sports and boxing in these circumstances have proven to be close to the needs and hopes of those in difficulty and in need of moral and material support to start living and trust in their own future.

Special thanks to the President of the Italian Boxing Federation Mr. Vittorio Lai and his staff for the excellent technical and management organization. Thank you to the Supervisor Helmut Ranze and all ITOs, to the Competitor Manager Mr. Nazzareno Mela and to the Referees and Judges who provided very good and correct performances “.

All the results here thanks to our friends at STREFA POLAND BOXING:

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