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Edwards expresses GB boxing fears

Edwards "shocked and amazed" by sacking

By Matt Slater and Ben Dirs

Terry Edwards has told BBC Sport he doubts whether the British boxing team will succeed at London 2012 following his dismissal as head coach.

On Wednesday, the British Amateur Boxing Association (BABA) confirmed Edwards' contract would not be renewed.

"I would love to see GB boxing achieve better results in 2012 than we had in Beijing," said Edwards, whose team won a gold and two bronzes last summer.

"I don't wish the team any ill, but I have doubts. It could struggle."

Edwards led his team to their most successful Olympics in 56 years in Beijing and was recently awarded an MBE.

He had vowed to carry on in his post despite Beijing gold medallist James DeGale and bronze medallist Tony Jeffries turning professional after the Games, along with world champion Frankie Gavin and team-mate Billy Joe Saunders.

The successes in China led to a 60.3% increase in boxing's funding leading up to London 2012, to 8.02m.

And although Derek Mapp, chairman of BABA, which was formed after the Beijing Games in an attempt to overhaul the sport, praised Edwards' "huge contribution", he said BABA must work to "create a legacy of success" and further develop the sport.

Edwards will be replaced on a temporary basis by former England head coach Kelvin Travis, previously sacked by the Amateur Boxing Association, who will work alongside BABA's recently appointed performance director Kevin Hickey.

If we could have continued the way we were going, GB boxing would have been the new Cuba by 2012

Terry Edwards

Hickey coached the British Olympic team during the 1980s and is also a former technical director of the British Olympic Association.

While Edwards is adamant amateur boxing's elite programme should remain centralised at the Institute of Sport in Sheffield, individual home nations insist they should retain responsibility for their own top fighters.

Edwards said some of his former charges had already been in touch and told him their "aspirations have come down" in light of his departure.

"My aspirations for 2012 were to get a full team there and realistically we should have won four medals, that would have been one more than Beijing," he said.

"It would have been difficult, what with some of our big hitters going pro, but we have a tremendous amount of talent coming through - Luke Campbell, for example, who before Christmas won our first European gold since 1961.

"We have had Commonwealth champions, a world champion, an Olympic champion and a European champion, and those golds have come with four different boxers.

"That proves the programme has not just improved British boxing but it has improved British boxers, and that is the legacy I leave behind. We have achieved more than anybody could have expected.

"If we could have continued the way we were going, GB boxing would have been the new Cuba by 2012."

Edwards added that he was dismayed at how quickly the decision not to renew his contract was reached.

Hickey started his role on 1 January, met Edwards on 5 January and informed Edwards of BABA's decision three days later.

"I was shocked and surprised at how quickly a decision of that magnitude could be made," said Edwards, whose number two Dave Pocknell and programme manager Matt Archibald have resigned.

"I don't understand the logic [of the decision]. I have achieved more than any other British boxing coach, more than I could ever have imagined.

"I will always be there for the boxers and the programme if I can help in any way. So I'm not bitter about Kevin Hickey or Derek Mapp. They want to do it this way and I want to do it that way, but I'm still there to offer advice."

UK Sport executive John Steele gave his backing to BABA's decision, saying: "We respect the fact that, having discussed the new roles and responsibilities required to drive the Olympic boxing programme forwards, Derek and Kevin felt it was time for Terry's involvement with the programme to come to an end.

"Both Terry's wealth of experience and track record speak for themselves and we have no doubt that the sport will continue to benefit from the legacy of his involvement for a long time to come."

see also
Amateur boxing explained
01 Mar 06 |  Boxing

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