Boxing: Lochend fighter set on bringing home a medal

JOSH TAYLOR’S target when he competes in the Olympics boxing competition is perfectly straightforward.

“I want to come home with a medal,” says the 21-year-old.

London 2012 poses the biggest challenge of his young career, but it is also an event which Taylor will treasure for the rest of his life.

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“My intentions are quite clear.” added Taylor, who is a product of the Lochend Amateur Boxing Gym. “If I turn up and perform on the day, I am more confident I can come away with what I am going there to do.

“I’m just going to take it in my stride and try to enjoy every moment of it. I’m still really calm and just want to get in the zone and focus on what lies ahead of me. To be honest, I am treating it all as just another boxing tournament and I know what I want come the end of it.”

With his Olympic debut pencilled in for Sunday July 29, Taylor won’t find out who his opponent will be until the day before, when the draw for the first round is made, a tactic designed to keep the pugilists on their toes and largely unaware of who is standing in their way.

With a total of 28 competitors in Taylor’s category of 60kg lightweight, he must face a minimum of five fights to have any chance of standing on the top podium draped in the blue, red and white of the Union Jack.

“To win the gold medal, I’ll have to come through five fights. I can’t afford to lose the first fight as I would drop out of the running automatically,” he said. “The competition is similar to the knock-out stages of football, but I am left guessing at who I will face until the draw is made. But I am confident in my own ability and will look forward to fighting whoever I face.”

Taylor expects the intensity of his training schedule to be toned down once he is settled in the comforts of his small apartment in Stratford, Greater London.

He has, however, not long arrived back on British shores after a training camp with the Great Britain boxing squad in the French village of Bugeat, an experience which pitched him into the thick of some competition he will possibly face in just over a week’s time.

He said: “There were other countries there including Algeria, Spain, Dominican Republic and, obviously, France – so we were sparring and training with a few of them which was good. I wasn’t giving it everything, but at the same time, I was showing some good combinations and letting them know.

“The place where we stayed was in the middle of nowhere, but it had a good running track and both boxing and weights gyms. It was good to get the team spirit going and everyone just can’t wait to get started. I think, from Monday onwards, we will be keeping it light with sharp sprints and pad work, but we’ll see what happens once I get down to the village.”

Taylor is grateful for the messages of support and particularly the commitment of his mentor, Terry McCormack, who has always had faith in the youngster’s ability. His judgement was vindicated when Taylor qualified for the Olympics back in April at a European qualifying event in Turkey.

However, the Prestonpans star’s confidence in his own ability is a shining attribute that every athlete at this level should aspire to have.

“Terry has definitely helped me come a long way and developed my skills,” he said. “But at the same time, I’ve always been confident in my own ability and had that self-belief. Everybody at Lochend has been really supportive, so it’s great to have them behind me. My family will be coming down to London to watch me, and I think my mum is more nervous about it all than I am.”