GARY BAKER'S OLYMPIC BLOG: Gwent athletes did us proud
1:58pm Tuesday 14th August 2012 in Sport
WHEN Gwent athletes return to their daily routines from breaks after London 2012 they will reflect on a fortnight where, win or lose, they did the county proud.
It has been four hard years of slog and dedication for those athletes to be at their absolute best.
For some, it didn’t happen. Rhythmic gymnast Frankie Jones, whose father is from Pontypool, could not make it to the finals on Saturday.
Abercarn’s Elena Allen shot three scores of 20 in her skeet qualification but it wasn’t enough to progress through to the finals.
While for Newport sprinter Christian Malcolm, London may be the end of the road in a glorious Olympic career that has spanned 12 years and four Games from Sydney to London.
On the flip side was Fred Evans. The 21-year-old boxer not only caught the imagination of Gwent and Wales but hit national headlines with a compelling campaign through the welterweight 69 kilo class.
His family and friends, including coach Tony Borg of the St Joseph’s Boxing Club in the city, survived on only a few hours’ sleep every day as they commuted up and down the M4 to watch Fred and Barry’s Andrew Selby, whose brother Lee is also coached by Borg.
Fred, 21, returned to Wales with a silver medal but his victory over number one ranked Lithuanian Egidijus Kavaliauskas was unexpected and pricked up the ears of the nation as he reached the quarter-finals.
He then beat Canadian Custio Clayton, although that was on countback after a draw on points. Clayton appealed about warnings Evans should have had but, in the early hours of the morning, after much deliberation, it was rejected.
His victory over world champion Ukrainian Taras Shelestyuk in the semis was excellent but the final against Kazakhstan’s Serik Sapiyev, in front of real royalty – The Princess Royal – and boxing royalty in Lennox Lewis and Vladimir Klitschko, was a fight too far. Now Evans will go on to the 2014 Commonwealth Games and, maybe, the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with the confidence to beat anyone.
London will be a great memory for him and for all our local competitors who will be able to re-live with friends and family for many years to come how they competed at an Olympic Games in Great Britain.