On Monday 20 February, 64 boxers and 14 boxing coaches began an exciting journey to the London 2012 Olympic Games. They are taking part in the AIBA Road to London first training camp in Cardiff, Wales. As part of the AIBA ‘Road to Dream’ Program, this initiative will lead to some good prospects from emerging countries to the pinnacle of their careers.
“As one of AIBA’s Development Projects, the Road to Dream Program follows the ideals of the Olympic Movement by contributing to the social improvement of boxers, and the dream of being competitive at AIBA’s main international events and Olympic Games”, explained Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu, AIBA President. “It is also a tool to educate the boxers and help them to fight against violence, poverty, illiteracy and any other social problem in their country.”
The AIBA Road to Dream Program offers athletes and coaches from underprivileged and developing countries the opportunity to participate in major AIBA events and attend intensive two week training camps in the build-up.
AIBA provides each participant with airline tickets, accommodation, food and drink, full training facilities with equipment, training kits, gloves and headgear, full medical and massage services as well as covering insurance, visa expenses and local transportation.
Six of these camps have already taken place in the past three years: Road to Milan 2009 (Participating countries: 67; Boxers: 86; Coaches: 25; Length of Program: 33 days), Road to Baku 2010 (Participating countries: 24; Boxers: 43; Coaches: 5; Length of Program: 30 days), Road to Barbados 2010 (Participating countries: 19; Boxers: 29; Coaches: 7; Length of Program: 30 days), Road to Antalya 2011 (Participating countries: 13; Boxers: 23; Coaches: 7; Length of Program: 21 days), Road to Astana 2011 (Participating countries: 10; Boxers: 20; Coaches: 8; Length of Program: 22 days), Road to Baku 2011 (Participating countries: 28; Boxers: 48; Coaches: 20; Length of Program: 30 days).
Sri Lankan woman boxer Anusha Kodithuwakku stated, after her participation in Road to Barbados and the Women’s World Boxing Championships Barbados 2010, “I do not have a huge international experience but I gained invaluable knowledge through the training camp, where I sparred with so many boxers from so many other countries. Before I was feeling tense about competing but now all that is gone.”
You can already see the benefits of the Road to Dream Program. A total of three medals were won by Road to Antalya boxers across the AIBA Women’s Junior & Youth World Boxing Championships. The program brought Vietnam a gold and silver medal with Thi Vy Vuong taking the Junior title in the Light Bantamweight (52kg) category.
It was the 23-year-old Welterweight Lithuanian Egidijus Kavaliauskas who made the biggest impact in the AIBA World Boxing Championships Baku 2011 after reaching the semi-finals, qualifying in the process for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Kavaliauskas recorded several telling victories on the way to taking a bronze medal.
Uzbekistan Mars Kuchkarov, AIBA Head instructor on the Road to Baku 2011 declared: “I believe that AIBA is doing the right thing with this training camp. I have seen a lot of talent all around the world and they can now develop their skills to become great boxers.”
The Road to London first training camp began on Monday 20 February 2012 in Cardiff, Wales, and ends on 10 March. All boxers are endorsed by both their National Federation and National Olympic Committees for their participation in the upcoming Continental Olympic Qualifying Events for men or the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships Qinhuangdao 2012. The gathering features: 47 men (14 from Africa, 14 from Americas, 9 from Asia, 7 from Europe and 3 from Oceania), 17 women (4 from Africa, 5 from Americas, 5 from Asia, 2 from Europe and 1 from Oceania) and 14 coaches (4 from Africa, 4 from Americas, 3 from Asia, 1 from Europe and 2 from Oceania). The troops will be lead by AIBA Head coach Colin Jones as well as a further five Assistant coaches.
AIBA will be inviting all boxers who have qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games through their Continental Olympic Qualifying Events to the second Road to London camp (5 to 24 July, Cardiff) , to prime them for the biggest show on earth.
“It is AIBA’s mission to help boxers from emerging countries by contributing to the improvement of their social conditions”, ensures Dr. Wu. “The Road to Dream Program has already shown good results but it will show many more in the next few years.
“AIBA will obviously continue this program in the lead up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. For that we need the full cooperation of our National Federations. Hopefully we will soon be able to count on a joint effort with National Olympic Committees and the International Olympic Committee.”