GB Schools Three Nations 2019 – Finals report
June 9, 2019 | by Matt Halfpenny
England capitalised on home advantage to claim the lions’ share of the medals on Finals Day at the GB Schools Three Nations 2019 – but Scotland and Wales also had their moments.
With England permitted to enter two boxers per weight category in the tournament – as is right of the hosting country nation – the size of their team vastly outnumbered those of their neighbours.
And they used that to good effect at the Barnsley Metrodome by claiming 18 of the 27 gold medals on offer, with Scotland winning six and Wales three.
The Celtic nations enjoyed an excellent first session prior to the interval, when only two England boxers were victorious when not facing an opponent from their own country.
But the Three Lions came roaring back in the second session when, with the help of four all-England Finals, they triumphed in all nine bouts after the restart.
Scotland’s six golds came from the first six bouts they contested, starting with Nathan Lundie’s split decision win at Male Under 35.5kg over England’s Quie Coleman and ending with Brooke Neely’s success by the same manner against another English boxer, Lyla Bardauskas, at Female Under 48kg.
In between, Sonny Kerr was one of those from North of the border delighted to come out on top, edging out Johnny Docherty on a split decision in the Male Under 44.5kg category.
“It feels fantastic to win the GB Three Nations,” he said. “All the hard work and training has now paid off.
“It was two hard bouts against the English champion and the English runner-up, so it’s been a great weekend. Overall the Scottish boxers have done very well.”
When the Scots’ run of success was halted, it was by a Welshman as their captain, William Bennett, beat Taylor Gray on a split decision in the Male Under 52kg category.
He followed earlier Welsh successes for Danny Thomas, who got the better of England’s Aman Kumar on a split at Male Under 50kg, and Ffion Wilmott, who was thrilled to sweep to a unanimous success over the hosts’ Kayla Holdsworth.
She said: “It’s been an amazing experience. I really enjoyed the fight and I’ve had a great time overall.
“It’s the best feeling in the world to be a Three Nations champ. All the Wales boxers deserve a lot of credit as together we have achieved some great things.”
But the joy for Wales and Scotland evaporated once England’s Emmanuel Buttigieg won the final bout of the first session with a unanimous decision against Wales’ Cole Rees in what was a sign of things to come.
The Newham boxer won the National Schools Championship at Crawley last month by beating Thomas Robinson and was a unanimous winner on this occasion too.
“He (Cole) was a strong boy, but I listened to the game plan and stuck to my boxing and that’s what got me the win,” he said.
“We had watched him yesterday (Saturday) and saw that he liked to come forward, so we decided I should box on the back foot and let him come to me.
“It’s the best weekend ever – there’s no better feeling than winning something like this. I’ve been working for this for a good six or seven months.”
Michael O’Regan put in a powerful performance to claim a split decision win against Scotland’s Kian Govan in what was an excellent bout.
The Male Under 62kg 2nd City boxer, beaten by Tyrone Cross at the National Schools Championships, was delighted to go one better this time.
He said: “I was very pleased with how it went and I was confident I could get the win in this one.
“Winning this GB title is the biggest thing I have done in boxing so far.”
The penultimate bout of the day saw a reversal of fortunes for Joe Hodgkinson in his Male Under 68kg final against RJ Draper, as he beat the opponent who had got the better of him at the National Schools Championships.
The Olympian boxer took advantage of a recent holiday to ensure he was in peak condition for the bout.
“I think the first bout against RJ I rushed in a lot, but this time I picked my times to attack better,” he said.
“It’s brilliant to be the champion. I have been running along the beach and swimming lengths of the pool in the Dominican Republic – not what you would normally do on holiday – but it was with the effort.”
Earlier Jaiden Harradine of West Ham wasted little time stopping Wales’ Liam Williams in the Male Under 43kg category.
He said: “I put in a good performance today. I’ve had two really good opponents, so it’s a dream come true to win this.
“I just want to thank all the coaches I’ve worked with for pushing me to get where I am today. Pulling on the England vest is my biggest achievement, and I feel really proud to have done it.”
England Boxing would like to thank all coaches and officials from all three countries, as well as the spectators who made their way to Barnsley to cheer on the boxers.
All pictures by Andy Chubb