AFTER all the distractions of the exclusions of Fred Evans and Ashley Brace, the first of the Team Wales boxers finally gets to step into a ring at Glasgow 2014 today, writes Andrew Penman.
The draw for the Commonwealth Games first round has pitted Wales’ best medal hope Andrew Selby against Scotland’s Reece McFadden in the 52kg category at 6.35pm this evening.
At 60kg, Selby’s fellow St Joseph’s fighter Joe Cordina takes on England’s Pat McCormack at 1pm tomorrow.
Blackwood’s Kody Davies gets his 91kg campaign under way against Scotland’s Stephen Lavelle at 7.50pm on Sunday night.
Newport’s Sean McGoldrick begins the defence of the 52kg title he won in Delhi four years ago against Australian Jackson Woods at 1.35pm on Monday.
And Bargoed’s Lauren Price is up against Taressa London of Guyana in the women’s 75kg category on Monday night at 7.40pm.
But Ebbw Vale’s Brace will only be able to watch on TV, if she can bear to, after she was barred from competing over issues relating to her past career in kick boxing.
It was originally reported on July 7 that the Torfaen Warriors fighter was deemed ineligible to compete by the Amateur International Boxing Association.
Team Wales Chef de Mission Brian Davies said at the time: “AIBA have taken the decision to refuse approval for her accreditation due to her previous involvement at the 2013 Unified Kickboxing World Championships which makes her ineligible to compete.
“The Welsh Amateur Boxing Association (WABA) has contacted AIBA to clarify this decision and accepts their ruling.”
But Ashley’s furious father Shaun is convinced that his daughter’s exclusion from the Glasgow showpiece is down to a WABA mistake rather than an AIBA ruling.
The Argus has seen a letter that Mr Brace says was sent by John Wheatley, operations and logistics officer for WABA, to AIBA competition manager Kasra Asrar Haghighi admitting to a WABA mistake over the matter.
Mr Wheatley’s states in the letter: “Ashley is totally innocent in this affair; she has never hidden the fact that she was involved in kickboxing.
“I believe she applied for eligibility…and the only thing I can think of which stopped this going forward was an oversight by WABA staff…somewhere this eligibility application went missing.”
Dad Shaun spent thousands of pounds on tickets and hotels to watch his daughter compete in Glasgow and he can’t hide his anger.
“The cost is irrelevant,” said Mr Brace. “You do it for your kid.
“Ashley has put so much work into her boxing. She gave up so much for this and it’s ruined her life. Her life could have changed forever if she’d won gold in Glasgow.”