NZ boxer Hindley keen to pay back biggest fan
Boxer Leroy Hindley would be watching the Commonwealth Games on television back in New Zealand if it weren't for the generosity of Auckland woman Pip Thomas.
Hindley, a 20-year-old builder's apprentice originally from Wellington, but living in Auckland, wasn't considered a good enough prospect to receive funding.
That would have stopped him getting to the international meets he needed to compete in to prove his ability and get past the stricter New Zealand Olympic Committee boxing criteria.
In stepped Thomas.
"A few thousand dollars" later, Hindley went to both Finland and Serbia, did well and is now at the Commonwealth Games.
The light welterweight is not here just to make up the numbers, he's keen on a medal too.
"That'd be a great way to pay Pip back," he said. "I'm looking to get on the podium for sure.
"There's definitely a bit more pressure on me to perform now too, but I take a bit of confidence out of the fact I've worked so hard to get here.
"My coach said to me, 'you've already kicked the door open, now bust right through'."
At the other end of the experience spectrum is Alexis Pritchard.
The 30-year-old is ranked No 2 in the women's lightweight section. She competed at the London Olympics and is the most experienced boxer in the nine-strong team.
She's a genuine gold medal chance, especially if she can avoid top seed, English woman Natasha Jonas in the draw.
Oddly the Commonwealth Games boxing tournament is not seeded so today's draw could be crucial.
But even if Pritchard does meet Jonas, there's a belief from the Kiwi that she can cause an upset.
"I fought her in Liverpool in April and lost a really close one," Pritchard said.
"But when we were training in Sheffield I had the chance to spar against her three times. First time there was those initial nerves. But by the third session I had relaxed and started to figure out her her tendencies. I walked away knowing I'm as good as her and I'm far more confident now."
Pritchard has taken on a mentor role with the other women in the team Magan Maka.
Maka is in her first major competition too, but Pritchard spoke highly of her chances. "She's a bad-ass little fighter. She's tiny but she packs a punch. She's got so much guts and determination.
"If she doesn't strike Canada first I think Magan's got a really good chance of getting on the podium."