Olympic Qualifiers, day four: Seven reach final as Artingstall books Olympic spot

June 7, 2021 | by Matt Halfpenny


Karriss Artingstall clinched victory in a tense box-off to become the 11th Great Britain boxer to secure a place at the Tokyo Olympics after another memorable day at the European Qualifying event in Paris.

The British Army gunner unanimously defeated Sweden’s Stephanie Thour (Sweden) at featherweight (Under 57kg), meaning, incredibly, all but one of the Brits who travelled to the French capital are on their way to next month’s multi-sport extravaganza.

Not only that, but a magnificent seven of her team-mates will be back tomorrow to bid for tournament gold and further seeding points going forward to the Olympics after semi-final wins or walkovers.

Artingstall, from Macclesfield, certainly had to dig deep, not only because she had to regather herself after quarter-final defeat yesterday, but also because she faced a determined opponent who was also in the last chance saloon for Olympic qualification.

A bright start set the tempo for the Brit and she carried on that momentum to win the opening round on the majority of the judges’ scorecards.

The second round proved to be even more convincing as her sharper work frequently saw her beat her Scandinavian opponent to the punch.

From there, with a healthy lead, Artingstall could have chosen to defend what she had, but she instead remained the more positive boxer to seal her passage and prompt a look to the heavens in relief followed by beaming smiles.

Artingstall’s obvious delight in the early part of the evening session had been preceded by a sensational afternoon session when all six Britons progressed.

Frist to box was Charley Davision and she booked her spot in tomorrow’s tournament final with a composed display against Italy’s Giordana Sorrentino.

A battle of the southpaws saw the Lowestoft-based boxer sneak the first round on the judges’ scorecards, but thereafter she took command, increasingly finding her range.

The Attleborough ABC boxer eventually prevailed in the flyweight (Under 51kg) bout to seal her progression.

She was quickly followed into action by Caroline Dubois, who took on Agnes Alexiusson (Sweden)oat lightweight (Under 60kg), and the Londoner continued her meteoric rise with another victory.

The 20-year-old former Commonwealth Youth Games winner, as well as World and European Youth champion, lost a close opening round on three of the judges’ scorecards.

But the Repton boxer improved as the bout went on and benefited from being the more aggressive boxer to claim the second and third rounds across the board and run out a unanimous winner.

Lauren Price faced Aoife O’Rourke, from Ireland, at middleweight (Under 75kg) and put in another stellar performance to win through.

Although frequently boxing off the back foot, the Welsh reigning world champion was able to pick off her opponent with regularity to secure a unanimous victory, winning all three rounds.

It was then the turn of the men as Birtley’s Pat McCormack took on Aidan Walsh (Ireland) at welterweight (Under 69kg), looking to build on a superb tournament so far.

And the number one seed did not disappoint, using his wide variety of punches to good effect to seal a unanimous decision.

After five successes out of five in the afternoon session, Ben Whittaker was able to make it a clean sweep with six from six, as he edged out Luka Plantic (Croatia) at light-heavyweight (Under 81kg) by a split decision.

After dropping the opening round to three judges and being deducted a point in the second, the Firewalker boxer kept his cool in the third to hit back strongly and prevail.

Galal Yafai was scheduled to take on Batuhan Ciftci (Turkey) at flyweight (Under 52kg), but he automatically advanced through to the final after his opponent withdrew.

After Artingstall’s joy, three more Great Britain boxers were scheduled to compete in the evening session, though only two did as Frazer Clarke’s opponent at super-heavyweight (Over 91kg), Ivan Veriasov of Russia, withdrew, handing the Burton man a final place.

There was disappointment for Luke McCormack, who could not join brother Pat for the final bouts, but he did take part in one of the bouts of the day against France’s Sofiane Oumiha at lightweight (Under 63kg).

The number two and three seeds went toe to toe and showed excellent defensive skills and probing attacks in a bout that was extremely hard to call, but the home boxer got the nod on a split decision.

Cheavon Clarke was GB’s final boxer in the ring and took on Emmanuel Reyes Pla (Spain) at heavyweight (Under 91kg) and he, too, missed out on a place in the final after being on the wrong end of a split decision.

Tomorrow’s starts at 1pm and can be viewed live on BBC Sport by clicking here and the Olympic Channel by clicking here. All six afternoon session bouts feature a Great Britain boxer.