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McGivern looking to move another step closer towards 2020 Olympic qualification

James McGivern celebrates following his win in the Irish Elites at the National Stadium in February and the South Belfast boxer is hoping to move a step closer to Olympic qualification when he competes at the European Games at Minsk James McGivern celebrates following his win in the Irish Elites at the National Stadium in February and the South Belfast boxer is hoping to move a step closer to Olympic qualification when he competes at the European Games at Minsk
By Paddy Tierney

HE may be going into the European Games as one of Ireland’s leading medal prospects, but James McGivern insists he is still learning his trade.

After securing the Irish Elite title earlier this year, McGivern’s preparations for the European Games suffered a minor setback when he was beaten by Enric La Cruz in April’s Chemistry Cup.

The highly-rated South Belfast fighter says he is still adjusting to his new weight, after being forced to move up from 60kg to 63kg due to a change in the Olympic weight categories.

Following a recent training camp at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown, McGivern says he is ready to bounce at back the European Gams in Minsk, Belarus.

“I am up to 55kg, hitting 56 and I am getting heavier and heavier, which is good,” he said.

“I found in the Chemistry Cup back in January that I was coming in a bit light. I struggled a bit with the weight, but I am heavier now. It is better to get those wee bumps out of the way now.

“Now, the European Games is about making it to the World Championships and qualifying for Tokyo. I am still relatively young in this team, so it is still a learning process for me.

“Training went really well. We were up at a sparing camp at Jordanstown with boxers from India, America, Romania and Holland.
“We’ve had a great combination of sparing, so everything has been top-class. It is good to get that bit of sharpness in before we head off.”

With regards to their training camp, McGivern reiterated his glowing praise of Ulster High Performance Coach John Conlan.

“Going into these fights, he (Conlan) just has a wealth of knowledge,” added the Lower Ormeau man.

“Even in sparing, he was able to tell me how the different guys boxed. It is incredible. It is great to tap into that and use his experience. It is a massive advantage having him in our corner.

“He is never in a panic and he sets out what he is going to do and executes that plan to perfection and it always seems to come up gold.”

The 21-year-old St George’s ABC boxer knows his performances in the coming months will determine whether or not he fulfils his ambition of making it to the Tokyo Olympics next year.

Boxing’s place at the 2020 Games now seems more secure after amateur boxing’s governing body, AIBA, was stripped of its right to host the tournament.

The International Olympic Committee, however, have confirmed that boxing will take place at Tokyo with a new body, headed by Morinari Watanabe, president of the International Gymnastics Federation, charged with running the tournament.

Despite, having previously admitted that the 2020 Olympics was the first thing on his mind when he wakes in the morning, McGivern insists he doesn’t pay any heed to the politics involved and stressed he is only focused on securing his spot at Tokyo.

“I can’t say I paid much attention to it – I am just focused on what I am doing. What the powers that be do is up to them,” said McGivern.

“If there’s boxing at Tokyo, I’ll be there. I am just focused on getting there and performing. It is the biggest stage in our sport and that’s all I am focused on – getting to Tokyo and getting a medal. Whoever runs it, I don’t really mind.

“It is crazy when you think it is next summer. Rio was such an iconic Olympics, maybe not always for the right reasons. It doesn’t seem that long since Rio and now Tokyo is next year, it is unbelievable how quickly these tournaments come around.”

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