NZ's Pritchard one bout from medal

Win for Pritchard, Fernandes defeated

SIMON PLUMB IN LONDON
Last updated 04:00 06/08/2012
Boxing
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ Zoom
New Zealand's Siona Fernandes takes a hit from Stoyka Petrova of Bulgaria. Fernandes lost the bout 23-11.

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New Zealand's first foray into Olympic women's boxing is off to a successful start with Alexis Pritchard now just one fight from a guaranteed medal.

Despite being knocked down in the fourth and final round against Tunisia's Rim Jouini, Pritchard claimed the fight, and a slice of history, 15-10 in the women's lightweight (57-60kg) division.

But in the way of the semifinals - where the losers will both be awarded bronze medals - Pritchard must now beat Russian second seed Sofya Ochigava.

Pritchard, whose coach is also her husband, said she is proud to have written herself into New Zealand Olympic history.

"It's an amazing feeling, I'm really proud that I have become the first New Zealand woman to win a bout at the Olympics," Pritchard said.

"The result is what we wanted and what we've been training for.

"I'm proud of myself and I'm really proud to be boxer with Cameron Todd, he's an amazing coach and he's got me here.

"Nine years ago I didn't think I would ever box and he thought I'd make a good boxer, so he's one of the reasons why I'm here.

"I've had a lot of support from home, mum and dad are in the crowd, and there's a lot of friends in London who have come over as well as athletes from team New Zealand."

The fight which would seal Pritchard a medal is scheduled at 12:10am (NZT).

 The news wasn't as good for the other Kiwi boxer though.

Siona Fernandes' name will forever be in the history books as the first female boxer from New Zealand to fight in an Olympic Games.

But it ended in defeat, losing 23-11 to Bulgaria's Stoyka Petrova in the women's fly weight (51kg) division.

Struggling to find a way past Petrova's reach without leaving herself open, inexperienced Fernandes admitted the better fighter won.

"I walked in there with no expectation, other than doing my best," Fernandes said.

"I thought she was a smart boxer, she wasn't aggressive and didn't come onto me, so I went to her a couple of times.

"She was definitely experienced enough to know when to score her points.

"She's got experience and is definitely stronger, hat's off to her. A really good boxer and she deserved to win."

Fernandes, who was born in Goa, said she enjoyed the historic experience, but doubted she would be back.

"Do it again? I'm not sure. I will continue boxing because I love it," she said.

"Right now I have a smile on my face because I know I'm going to enjoy the rest of the Olympics.

"Now it's about having fun, meeting other athletes and sucking it all in.

"I was a little emotional to be honest because it's been about representation of my country, and not just New Zealand, but Goa, that's who I am.

"It's amazing that a little community of people has supported me.

"Having the honour to fight in the Olympics has been amazing.

"But if I can't bring a medal back I know for sure I've opened the door for someone out there, with talent, to being a medal back home one day."

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