“I just can’t see anyone stopping George”- Burke

By Stephen Leonard

ST MARY’S Boxing Club Head Coach Noel Burke is fully confident his fighters George Bates and Kellie Harrington can fulfil their dreams of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The two saw their bid for the Summer Games put on hold after the postpone-ment of the last month’s European qualifiers in London as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

St Marys 60kg George Bates St Marys Dublin B0989 compressor

Tallaght’s George Bates is within touching distance of a place in the Tokyo Olympic Games

For Tallaght man, Bates, that was a particularly agonising decision as he was just one fight away from a place in the quarter finals and, with it, a ticket to Tokyo.

Yet Burke has been  mightily impressed by the form of his young protégé who had secured passage through to the last 16 of the 63kg division in London following his victory over Leon Dominguez of Spain, which had set him up for a pivotal clash with Azerbaijan’s Javid Chalabiyev.

Burke insists, Bates can get the job done saying “He [Chalabivev] is a former World champion, but look-ing at him now and looking at the level that George is at now, I can’t see anyone stopping George.

“He’s beaten World champions and Olympic silver medallists before and he’s still been improving over the past year and a half. I mean he went to London looking not just to qualify but to actually win the tournament.

“Since he got his qualification as an electrician he’s been able to train full-time, firstly in the club and now out in Abbottstown where he has that wrap-around support with physios and nutritional advice.”

Bates will be hoping he can finish the job in London with the possibility of having to make the cut in the final World qualifier made all the more difficult by the fact that Japan have opted to take up an automatic qualification spot in his weight class.

It means that competitors in the World qualifier in that weight division, along with the 52kg and 75kg class, will have to make it all the way to the semi finals in order to qualify.

George’s clubmate Harrington did not get the chance to contest the women’s lightweight qualifiers in London, but Burke is confident the 2018 World champion has what it takes to reach the Olympic stage.

“Kellie has been constantly improving” he said. “She’s an absolute professional, so disciplined.

“She never misses training, she never under-achieves in training so she’s at a very good level right now” he added.

And while he admits that the two are continuing their preparation in the most difficult circumstances, he is confident they are disciplined enough to emerge from it fighting fit for the challenge of qualification whenever they are presented with it.

“They’re training on their own, but with these two, you don’t have to watch them. They just get it done.

“Obviously they have to watch what they’re doing because they can’t go too hard when they don’t know when the qualifiers will be.

“They have to peak at the right time and it’s very difficult in these circumstances. Really it’s mental torture [not knowing when they will be able to compete]” he said.

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