Eight Team GB boxers booked their place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Friday by winning their semi-final at the European Qualifiers in Samsun, Turkey.
With the top two women and top three men from each weight class qualifying for the Games later this summer, the nine Brits knew that one victory would see them fulfil their Olympic dream.
London 2012 gold medallist Nicola Adams got the ball rolling with a convincing victory over Marielle Hansen of Norway before Galal Yafai, Qais Ashfaq, Muhammad Ali, Joe Cordina, Joshua Buatsi, Lawrence Okolie and Joe Joyce joined her in finding success.
Adams will now attempt to become the first British boxer since Harry Mallin in 1924 to defend an Olympic title, and couldn’t hide her delight at the success she found.
“I’m absolutely overwhelmed. I’m no longer on the road to Rio – I’m going to Rio and it’s an amazing feeling,” said Adams.
“It’s the first step to defending my title – I can’t wait. The job isn’t done yet, I want to get the gold and I want to become European champion again this week. But it’s nice to know I have qualified for the Olympic Games.”
“I’m nervous for every fight. Like I’ve said before, everybody wants to be where I am and wants to be the next Nicola Adams.
“I’ve got to step in the ring giving 110 per cent because the average boxer doubles their amount of energy and doubles their amount of skill against me because they’ve got nothing to lose.
“I always have to give everything for every competition. It’s nice to think I’m doing it for my country and let’s go and get that gold in Rio.”
Light flyweight Yafai saw off Spaniard Samuel Carmona Heredia, bantamweight Ashfaq was awarded the victory over Mykola Butsenko of Ukraine before Ali, looking to emulate his namesake in becoming Olympic champion, outboxed Bulgaria’s Daniel Asenov in the flyweight category.
As the weights moved up, the Brits found no less success as Welsh lightweight Cordina won the Celtic battle by seeing off Ireland’s David Joyce, light heavyweight Buatsi had too much for Ukraine’s Oleksandr Khyzhniak and super heavyweight Joyce absolutely dominated to earn a stoppage of Istvan Bernath of Hungary.
But arguably the performance of the night came from Okolie as the heavyweight with just 23 fights under his belt had too much speed for the more fancied Abdulkadir Abdullayev of Azerbaijan.
The only disappointment came as middleweight Anthony Fowler lost to Christian Mbilli Assomo of France but he can also book his place in Rio if he wins the third-fourth place box-off over the weekend.
Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA