February 28 - A total of 64 boxers and 14 boxing coaches have begun their journey to 2012 Olympic Games by taking part in the International Boxing Association (AIBA) Road to London first training camp in Cardiff in Wales.
The camp in the Welsh capital, which got underway earlier this month, runs until March 10 with participants coming from Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
The fighters are being led by AIBA head coach Colin Jones – as well as a further five assistant coaches – and AIBA will be inviting all boxers who have qualified for London 2012 via their Continental Olympic Qualifying Events to the second Road to London camp in Cardiff in July.
Road to London is part of the AIBA Road to Dream Programme which is designed to allow athletes and coaches from underprivileged and developing countries to participate in major AIBA events and attend intensive two week training camps in the build-up to them.
"As one of AIBA's Development Projects, the Road to Dream Programme follows the ideals of the Olympic Movement by contributing to the social improvement of boxers and the dream of being competitive at AIBA's main international events and Olympic Games," said AIBA President C K Wu.
"It is also a tool to educate the boxers and help them to fight against violence, poverty, illiteracy and any other social problem in their country.
"It is AIBA's mission to help boxers from emerging countries by contributing to the improvement of their social conditions.
"The Road to Dream Programme has already shown good results but it will show many more in the next few years."
AIBA provides each participant of the programme with airline tickets, accommodation, food and drink, full training facilities with equipment, training kits, gloves and headgear, full medical and massage services as well as covering insurance, visa expenses and local transportation.
Six of these camps have already taken place in the past three years with Road to Milan in 2009, Road to Baku and Road to Barbados in 2010, Road to Antalya, Road to Astana and Road to Baku in 2011.
Sri Lankan female boxer Anusha Kodithuwakku (pictured right) hailed the programme after participating in Road to Barbados ahead of the 2010 Women's World Championships.
"I do not have a huge international experience but I gained invaluable knowledge through the training camp, where I sparred with so many boxers from so many other countries," she said.
"Before I was felt tense about competing but now all that is gone."
The Road to Dream Programme had already showed promising results with three medals won by Road to Antalya boxers across the AIBA Women's Junior and Youth World Boxing Championships.
The programme brought Vietnam a gold and silver medal, with Thi Vy Vuong taking the junior title in the light bantamweight, while 23-year-old welterweight participant Egidijus Kavaliauskas of Lithuania won bronze at the Baku 2011 AIBA World Boxing Championships to qualify for London 2012.
"AIBA will obviously continue this programme in the lead up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games," Wu added.
"For that we need the full cooperation of our National Federations.
"Hopefully we will soon be able to count on a joint effort with National Olympic Committees and the International Olympic Committee (IOC)."
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August 2010: Cardiff chosen as final venue for AIBA Road to London programme