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By Neto Baptiste

A lack of competition and quality sparring partners could be hampering the growth and development of young boxers in Antigua and Barbuda.

This is according to Olympic Games-bound and 2019 Pan American bronze medallist, Alston Ryan, who believes there are others in Antigua that, if given the opportunity, could move to the next level.

“Of course, they can; I do think so because I did it and anyone can do it. There is nothing special about me so….. [but] just like me, the lack of bouts and the lack of competition and that’s about it, not being able to spar as frequently or compete as frequently as they would like to,” he said.

Ryan joined sprinter Cejhae Greene as the second athlete to qualify for the July 23 to August 8 Olympic Games in Japan last week. 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.

The boxer said moving to England provided him with the opportunities and tools needed to take his game to the next level but hastened to add that there are many coaches here that are just as knowledgeable about the game.

“For me, it’s more for the competition and the sparring and that’s the reason we moved here in terms of getting more bouts, getting more people in a wider sparring range in terms of different types of opponents, but in terms of training and the coachers, there is not much of a difference, just the ability to have numerous sparring partners and numerous competition,” Ryan said. 

The athlete said that despite his recent good form, the ongoing pandemic has impacted him from a mental standpoint.

“I just thank God I have a good psychologist to help me through that because it’s been a rollercoaster, it’s been tough but I just need to stay focused on the task at hand, stay in the gym and make sure I am in in good shape. I train six per week, two or three times per day, because you have to be in tip-top shape,” he said.

Last 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.