By Neto Baptiste
Despite the many obstacles thrown his way during the past year, boxer Alston Ryan remains focused on the task at hand, which is putting Antigua and Barbuda on the medal podium for the first time at an Olympic Games.
In an interview with Observer media, the UK-based athlete welcomed the pressures of competing at a major event like the Olympics, assuring that he intends to do more than just represent on paper.
“If anyone is putting pressure, then I am putting pressure on me, but I think I strive better under that because that’s the goal I set for myself, because I am not going to go over there just to make up numbers. My intention, my sole aim, is to get on the podium. I believe in my boxing ability and I train hard, I pay the price in the gym and I think it’s definitely in reach,” he said.
“The goal is to just take one fight at a time, don’t overlook none of the opponents and just keep going until I reach to the podium. So four to five fights would put me right on the middle of the podium and that’s what the aim is for me,” he added.
The boxer, who won bronze at the Pan American Games in 2019, joined sprinter Cejhae Greene as the second athlete to qualify for the July 23 to August 8 Olympic Games in Japan. The Antiguan received the good news after a qualifier originally slated for Argentina last year was cancelled last month because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ryan said he was looking forward to competing in Argentina as it offered an opportunity to get competitive fights under his belt.
“That’s why we were looking forward to the Argentina qualifiers, but unfortunately that was cancelled so we just have to depend on some competitive sparing in preparation towards Tokyo. It’s always good to compete to see where you’re at and get some of that ring rush off, but everyone is in the same boat. It’s not me alone, we are all in the same boat so we’re all at a disadvantage,” he said.
The fighter is however thankful that regulations in the UK afforded him the opportunity to remain in the gym throughout the pandemic.
“Fortunately for me, professionals and elite athletes were exempt, so although most of the local and amateur gyms were closed, the professional gyms are open for professional and elite athletes, so I was fortunate enough to train with the pros. During the whole lockdown I was still training, hitting the good numbers in the sprints, in the weight room and in the gym so everything is going smoothly so far and it’s just to stay healthy until July,” Ryan said.
The boxer, who is part of the UK-based Repton Boxing Club, is the first boxer to win a medal at a major games while representing Antigua and Barbuda.
Over the weekend, sailor Jelese Gordon was confirmed for an “Invitational Place” at the Tokyo Olympics. The 19-year-old Gordon, who was previously confirmed as a wild card entry for the games had it taken place in 2020, was forced to wait another year for confirmation as to whether or not she would receive the same courtesy for the event that has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.