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Page last updated at 17:43 GMT, Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Edwards focused only on 2012 test

By Matt Slater

James DeGale and Terry Edwards
James DeGale was the pick of Terry Edwards' talented squad in Beijing

The head coach of Britain's Olympic boxing team has said any talk about his future in the job is premature and his focus remains on preparing for 2012.

Speculation has surrounded Terry Edwards ever since the elite set-up was overhauled last month.

But the highly successful coach has told BBC Sport he only wants to think about the European Championships, which start in Liverpool on Thursday.

"I'm not sure what the future holds but I'm not pre-empting problems," he said.

"My whole focus is on getting a young team ready for the Europeans - the first rung on the ladder to the London Olympics.

"It's more of a development team but I'm really excited about seeing how they cope at the first major championships we have hosted for years.

"I can't wait to see them perform in front of their home crowd."

The tournament will come as a welcome diversion to the 65-year-old coach after a rollercoaster year for British amateur boxing.

Results inside the ring have been impressive - superb three-medal hauls at the World Championships in Chicago last year and the Beijing Olympics this summer - but matters outside the ropes have been painful to observe at times and damaging to the sport.

I'm not sure we're going to win hatfuls of medals in Liverpool but that's not what this is about

Terry Edwards
Infighting between the sport's various administrators culminated last month when a new body, the British Amateur Boxing Association (BABA), was formed to take control of the Sheffield-based elite boxing programme.

That move was approved by UK Sport, the agency that funds Olympic sport in this country, in the hope the internal feuds could be consigned to the past.

It was also hoped Edwards, whose deteriorating relationship with the previous regime triggered many of the rows, could be persuaded to continue in his role as head coach.

That was initially considered to be a realistic aspiration but recent reports have suggested Edwards remains upset about events in the build-up to Beijing - particularly criticism of his part in Frankie Gavin's failure to make his weight limit ahead of the competition - and during the Games themselves.

Edwards is also believed to be unconvinced about the need for a new performance director, a position BABA is currently interviewing for, with a view to an appointment being in place by next month.

Getting that decision right and defining the framework for the performance director's relationship with Edwards and his coaching staff will be BABA's first big test, particularly as a number of the Beijing team have said their continued amateur status depends on Edwards staying on.

Terry Edwards and Amir Khan
Edwards coached a 17-year-old Amir Khan to a silver medal in Athens
Foremost among these is Olympic middleweight champion James DeGale, who has said he will turn professional if Edwards quits - a step Gavin, who so sensationally missed his chance for Olympic glory, has already taken.

But for the time being Edwards remains "totally focused on the job in hand, which this month is the European Championships".

The event starts in Liverpool's Greenbank Sports Academy with Thursday's weigh-in and draw. The venue then hosts seven days of competition in 11 different weight categories, before the tournament moves to the city's Echo Arena for the finals on Saturday, 15 November.

Britain is fielding a nine-man team, with Joe Murray the only Beijing Olympian on display. Murray, a bronze medallist at the 2007 Worlds, was a controversial first-round loser in China but steps up a division in Liverpool to fight at featherweight.


Other names to look out for include bantamweight Luke Campbell and heavyweight Danny Price. Both fighters won gold medals at the recent Tammer Tournament in Finland and Price was named fighter of the tournament.

"I'm not sure we're going to win hatfuls of medals in Liverpool," said Edwards. "But that's not what this is about.

"The intention is to expose a group of potential London 2012 medal-winners to the challenge of fighting a major tournament at home."

This ties in with UK Sport's "world-class events programme", a 20m plan to stage as many World and European-level events as possible in the build-up to London 2012. This year alone, UK Sport has supported 17 events, including a record six World Championships.

Great Britain squad for the 2008 European Senior Boxing Championships, Liverpool (6-15 November): 48kg Darran Langley (London); 51kg Adam Whitfield (Army); 54kg Luke Campbell (Hull); 57kg Joe Murray (Manchester); 60kg Tom Stalker (Liverpool); 64kg Craig Dixon (Birtley); 69kg Stuart Buckley (Hartlepool); 81kg Obed Mbwakongo (London); 91kg Danny Price (Scarborough); 91kg+ Damien Campbell (London).

GB coach Terry Edwards' guide to amateur boxing

see also
Superb DeGale lands boxing gold
23 Aug 08 |  Boxing

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