NZ women on verge of Olympic boxing history
New Zealand has two women boxers in the running for Olympic selection, with other results at the women's world boxing championships in China falling their way.
Aucklanders Siona Fernandez and Alexis Pritchard were both bundled out of the championships in the first and second rounds respectively this week, missing the opportunity to gain automatic qualification by finishing in the top eight.
However, the results of Australian boxers have fallen in the kiwi boxers' favour, with the pair likely to gain the sole Oceania wildcard berth available in their respective weight classes.
Australian Kristy Harris and Fernandez, both in the 51kg flyweight division, lost their opening bouts but under rules governing Olympic qualification for regional contenders, Fernandez should get the nod given the opponent who defeated her went further in the championships than the woman who beat Harris.
Pritchard and Australian Jessica Retallack are both in the 60kg lightweight division. With Retallack losing her opening round bout and Pritchard winning hers in a walkover, Pritchard finished the championships as the top Oceania contender, despite losing in the second round to American gold medal hopeful Quanitta Underwood this morning (NZT).
New Zealand's other contender, Hurricane Doyle, lost in the second round and will almost certainly miss out in her division as her Australian middleweight counterpart Naomi-Lee Fischer-Rasmussen has won through to the round of 16.
Neither South African-born Pritchard nor Indian-born Fernandez is an Olympic certainty however, with the International Boxing Federation still to confirm the overall placings for Oceania.
While the Kiwi duo are likely to receive the top spot in their divisions, they will still need to prove to the New Zealand Olympic selectors that they are capable of finishing in the top 16 in London in order to gain selection.
Pritchard, as a seven-time New Zealand champion and the clear-cut top Oceania finisher in her division at the championships, seems the best chance of becoming New Zealand's first female boxer to compete at an Olympic Games.
New Zealand men's boxer Joseph Parker has also applied to the New Zealand Olympic committee and the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) for a wildcard to London.
Parker missed out on the Oceania spot to Australian Johan Linde, but there is a slim chance he could receive a wildcard. Parker has had a series of solid results recently but the Oceania wildcard is usually given to a Pacific Island athlete who doesn't have the opportunities New Zealand and Australian boxers have.