Boxer's bid for historic Welsh gold
BARRY boxer Andrew Selby has been ranked No 1 in the world in his weight division as he bids for a gold medal at the London Olympics.
Flyweight Andrew, 23, will either step into the ring for the first time on July 30 or August 3, depending on whether he has a bye for the first round.
He has been busy preparing for the Games by taking part in gruelling training regimes in France and Sheffield over the past few weeks.
He arrived at the Olympic Village on Tuesday this week and is looking forward to landing his first punch.
"I’m just ready to go now," he said. "I’m a bit nervous but am just really excited."
He added: "A medal would be great but I’m just aiming to get to the final first."
Andrew, who qualified for the Olympics after beating British rival flyweight Khalid Yafai in a box off, said he was delighted to be ranked No 1 in the 52kg category by the Amateur International Boxing Association.
"I was over the moon when I found out," he said. "I have been training all my life to get to that spot. I can’t wait for the first fight now."
It comes after he won a silver medal at the World Amateur Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, in October last year.
He was also crowned Wales’ first European amateur champion in 86 years after a thrilling 13-10 final victory over three-time former champion Georgy Balakshin, of Russia, in Ankara in June last year.
It culminated in him being awarded the honour of Boxer of the Year by the British Olympic Association.
Andrew added that he hoped the experience he had already gained in his fledgling career would help him on the big stage. "I have been all over the world fighting since I was 17," he said. "There’s a bit more pressure on me now that I’m representing GB though."
Andrew and fellow Great Britain squad member Fred Evans have become the first Welsh boxers to make an Olympic squad since 1984. Only one Welsh boxer, bronze medallist Ralph Evans at the Munich Games in 1972, has ever won a medal at the games.
Andrew added that his brother, Lee Selby, British and Commonwealth featherweight champion, had also been giving him advice.
"He’s been helping me out training on the weekends and helping me to get focused," he said. "He will be coming down to watch me compete too."
Andrew spent last week at the GB boxing headquarters at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, training with the Brazilian boxing team.
"I have been sparring with them as they are a good team," he said. "I’ve also been doing hard runs, pad work and quite a lot of sparring."
Andrew added that he would think about his future after the Olympics.
"I’m not sure what will happen after the Olympics, I’m just focusing on getting a medal," he said.
Rob McCracken, Performance Director of GB Boxing, was optimistic about Andrew’s chances.
"Andrew is a wonderful natural talent," he said. "He had an absolutely fantastic year in 2011 winning the European Championships and making the final of the Worlds. If he can reproduce that level of performance at the Olympics, then he has a great chance of doing well."