By Tom Degun

Josh Taylor_April_22April 21 - Middleweight Anthony Ogogo from England and lightweight Josh Taylor (pictured) of Scotland have secured spots at the London 2012 Olympic Games after both put in superb displays at the International Boxing Association (AIBA) qualification tournament in Trabzon, Turkey.

The tournament in Turkey provided the last opportunity for European boxers to qualify for the Olympics, with Taylor being the first British athlete to do so at the event when he reached the semi-final.

Although the Edinburgh fighter narrowly lost his semi-final 13-10 to Vazgen Safaryants of Belarus, he secured a bronze medal and put in a performance that was strong enough to give him an Olympic slot.

Ogogo (pictured below) booked his spot as he defeated Vitalk Bandarenka of Belarus 14-7 in the semi-final.

It was a superb result for the 23-year-old from Lowestoft, who has only just returned from a serious shoulder injury sustained at last September's World Championships. 

"I am just so thrilled and relieved to have finally qualified after all the challenges I have had to overcome," Ogogo said, admitting he was delighted to have secured a place at London 2012.

"I have had so much bad luck with injuries, but I never lost faith in myself and have had some amazing support from the coaches and all of the back-up team that have helped me to get over my shoulder injury and be in a position to compete in this qualifier.

"I always knew that if I got myself fully fit and free of injury then I could compete with the best in the world and I just want to thank all of the people that have helped me to do this.

Anthony Ogogo_April_22
"It will be a dream come true to represent Great Britain in a home Olympics and I cannot wait to walk out in that Arena in London.

"It's been a long hard journey to get this far, but I have qualified now, so my focus is going to be all about getting back in the gym, working hard, listening to the coaches and doing everything I can to be successful in the Olympics."

Delight at the duo's Olympic qualification was tempered with disappointment for light heavyweight Callum Smith, who boxed superbly in his semi-final but lost 16-14 to Vatan Huseynli from Azerbaijan.

It means that the Liverpudlian will now miss the chance to compete at a home Games.

GB Boxing's performance director Rob McCracken heaped praise on the British boxers in Turkey, particularly Ogogo following his difficult injury.

"I am very pleased for Anthony who really deserves this after everything he has been through," said McCracken.

"He has had to overcome some terrible luck with injury and it is great to see that his dedication, hard work and determination have been rewarded.

Team GB_boxers_April_22
"At the same time, I am also disappointed that Callum has not qualified and felt he boxed superbly as he has done all this week."

The results of the event mean that Britain will have seven boxers at the Games with Ogogo and Taylor set to join flyweight Andrew Selby (pictured above, far right), bantamweight Luke Campbell (pictured above, far left), light welterweight Tom Stalker (pictured above, second left), welterweight Fred Evans (pictured above, second right) and superheavyweight Anthony Joshua (pictured above, centre), who all qualified at the 2011 World Championships.

"I am very proud of the whole team and to have qualified seven boxers," said McCracken.

"The coaches and all of the support staff have each played an important part in the success we have enjoyed this week and over the last three years."

The tournament also proved successful for Ireland as light flyweight Paddy Barnes and welterweight Adam Patrick Nolan secured their Olympic spots at the event.

Barnes is likely to be a big medal contender at London 2012 after the 25-year-old from Belfast won a bronze medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics before claiming gold at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, where he competed for Northern Ireland.

Nolan is more of a surprise package though.

Unlike most of the Irish squad, the 25-year-old from Bray has not been involved in the majority of the High Performance Unit's training schedule but has still managed to book at spot at London 2012.

The pair become the 37th and 38th Irish athletes to qualify for the Olympics.

The Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) have written to AIBA President CK Wu in a plea to get their light-heavyweight Joe Ward also included in the Olympics.

Bahram Muzaffer_April_22
Ward controversially lost a fight against Turkey's Bahram Muzaffer (pictured above, right) 18-15 in Trabzon and IABA chair Dr John Lynch has asked that he be allowed to compete at the Olympics despite this.

"As a result [of Ward's controversial defeat] we appealed the decision as per AIBA was rejected," Lynch said.

"This means that Joe Ward is now the highest ranking boxer at 81 kilos not to qualify.

"We should point out that in our 100 years existence, our association has always accepted the rules as set out by AIBA and will continue to do so.

"However, we would ask that Mr Ward be considered for inclusion in the Olympics in 2012 under the tripartite selection quota or any other avenue."

In total, a further 26 European boxers from ten different weight categories qualified for London 2012.

There were six that qualified from Turkey, two each that qualified from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Great Britain France and Ireland and one each from Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine.

Each boxer's participation now needs to be confirmed by their respective National Olympic Committee.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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