GWENT boxers Lauren Price and Rosie Eccles are a step closer to fulfilling their dreams of becoming Olympians later this year.

The duo will make the short trip to London’s Copper Box Arena next month for an opportunity to secure a place at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Pontypool ABC’s Price and Eccles feature in a 13-strong GB Boxing squad that will compete at the Road to Tokyo Olympic Qualifying Event from March 14-24.

Neath-born Commonwealth Games gold medallist Sammy Lee, who moves down from light-heavyweight to middleweight, has also been selected.

While the inclusion of reigning world champion Lauren Price was never really in doubt, Caldicot’s Eccles had faced competition from England’s Sandy Ryan for the one welterweight berth.

“It’s a massive relief,” said the 23-year-old after her selection for the European qualifying event was confirmed. “I don’t think it has sunk in yet.

“Even though I knew on performances last year (which included a win over Ryan on the way to a bronze medal at the European Championships) I should be picked, you’re never sure until it’s official.

“The longer you go without knowing, the more you question whether it’s going to be you or not, and you don’t want to be complacent.

“There are five places up for grabs at my weight and I definitely feel getting one of them is achievable.

“I’m excited and a bit nervous, but you need to use those nerves to make you train harder and get stronger.

“I’ve wanted to go to an Olympics since I was a kid. I didn’t know what sport it would be in – I just wanted to go and win a gold medal.”

She added: “It’s great that qualifying is in London because I’m fighting in different places around the world most of the time.

“There will be a bit of pressure because you’re fighting in front of people you know, but you would rather have lots of support than be halfway around the world with none.”

Eccles will guarantee qualification should she reach the semi-finals of the 69kg weight division.

The losing quarter-finalists will compete in two box-offs with the winners facing each other for the fifth and final ticket to the Far East.

For Ystrad Mynach middleweight Price, only a last-eight win will do, although any boxer unsuccessful in London does have a final chance to reach Tokyo at world qualifying in May.

The 25-year-old is set to go into London as the top seed at 75kg after her dramatic world championship success in October.

“Obviously, after becoming world champion, I was quite confident of being selected, but it’s always nice to have it confirmed,” she explained.

“I just need to keep making sure all the boxes are ticked between now and London and I’m 100% prepared and focused when I get there.

“It’s going to be like a European Championships, and it will be tough because everyone wants to qualify for the Olympics.

“It would obviously be amazing to qualify, but it’s not just about qualifying, it’s about going to Tokyo and winning a medal.”

GB Boxing squad in full:

Men – Galal Yafai (flyweight), Peter McGrail (featherweight), Luke McCormack (light-welterweight), Pat McCormack (welterweight), Sammy Lee (middleweight), Ben Whittaker (light-heavyweight), Cheavon Clarke (heavyweight), Frazer Clark (super-heavyweight).

Women – Charley Davison (flyweight), Karriss Artingstall (featherweight), Caroline Dubois (lightweight), Rosie Eccles (welterweight), Lauren Price (middleweight).