Turkish delight as Josh Taylor nets Olympic place

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PRESTONPANS amateur boxer Josh Taylor was today hailed for his “four years of hard work” after securing qualification for the GB Boxing team for this summer’s Olympics in London.

The 21-year-old’s dreams became reality after defeating his Armenian opponent, Vladimir Sarukhanyan, 17-9 in a convincing quarter-final duel at the European Olympic qualifiers in the city of Trabzon on the Turkish Black Sea coast.

Taylor’s win, coupled with fellow Brit Sam Maxwell’s defeat in his respective quarter-final clash, means the Lochend gym star will now have the nation’s hopes rest on his shoulders in the men’s 60kg lightweight category in London.

The youngster will remain in Turkey ahead of his semi-final clash but closer to home, Taylor’s coach Terry McCormack is thrilled all the hard work and endeavour has taken the boxer to the platform and level of competition he so richly deserves to perform.

McCormack, of the Lochend club, said: “The whole gym is ecstatic as we were waiting on the result coming in but we’re all absolutely over the moon. It’s been four years’ hard work from when Josh came in to the gym after leaving school and he’s now going to be an Olympian. It’s just fantastic.”

McCormack is also adamant Taylor will be a force to be reckoned with at the Games and won’t be competing just to make up the numbers. He pinpoints his previous triumphs at international events, which have seen an accumulation of gold medals among other awards. With just over three months until Taylor comes face to face with his greatest challenge, McCormack is sure his student will be ready when the time arrives.

“Josh is world class and on his day is capable of beating anyone,” he said.

With Lochend Boxing Club having already excelled in producing boxers capable of mixing it with the best, Taylor’s achievements have underlined the club’s pedigree as one of the country’s best amateur boxing institutes.

McCormack added: “This is what I have been aiming for. The club has only been open five years and we’ve now got five Scottish champions, internationalists, Commonwealth Games silver medallists and this is now the pinnacle for Lochend Boxing Club. I hope this success will continue for many years to come.”

Meanwhile, a delighted Taylor said: “It’s an unbelievable feeling to have qualified for London. It was always going to be really tough to qualify but I’ve trained really hard and came into the tournament in good form.

“I’m really proud that I’ll be the only Scotsman on the team and I’m just going to keep listening to the coaches, work hard in the gym and get my preparations absolutely right.”

Anthony Ogogo and Callum Smith will also box for Olympic qualifying places tomorrow after successfully negotiating their respective quarter-finals yesterday evening.

Ogogo pulled off a spectacular recovery to beat Jaba Khositashvili of Georgia on countback after a 14-14 draw, having started the last round six points behind his opponent.

And Liverpool youngster Smith, making his senior debut at light-heavyweight, continued to impress as he scored a convincing 16-6 win over Hungarian Imre Szello. But there was heartbreak for Sunderland’s Warren Baister, who was beaten 19-5 by Bulgaria’s Tervel Pulev. Baister’s defeat means Great Britain will not have a heavyweight at the Games.