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Great Britain amateur boxers praise coach Rob McCracken

Andew Selby, Iain Weaver, head coach Robert McCracken, Gamal Yafai and Khalid Yafai
McCracken was appointed head coach in November 2009

By Ben Dirs

Members of the Great Britain team that won five medals at last week's European Championships in Moscow have hailed the influence of head coach Rob McCracken.

McCracken took on the role last year following the departure of first Terry Edwards and then Kevin Hickey.

And McCracken's impact has been marked, with GB winning three silvers and two bronzes, their best showing since 1961.

"Once he took over everything changed for the better," Khalid Yafai, who won silver in Moscow, told BBC Sport.

The flyweight added: "I've had trouble making weight and with my discipline in the past but since he took over he's turned me into a better boxer.

606: DEBATE

"He's so professional in what he does, so calm and experienced and he's turned us into professional athletes.

"His expectations are so high for us - the fact he expected a gold medal from me in Moscow tells me he thinks I'm the best fighter in the world and once you get medals like these, you believe it."

Featherweight Iain Weaver, who also won silver in Moscow, said: "It's got a lot to do with Rob and the rest of the coaching staff and the other lads think he's got it right as well.

"I think we were the fittest team in Moscow, it was certainly the fittest I've ever been before. We were the best team out there, the best prepared, the best dressed, we looked the most professional.

"When we go to the gym we all want to train, we all give our all. We have a laugh, we have a crack but when it's time to get down to business we get down and train hard -and that's all down to Rob."

McCracken took up the reins after a turbulent period for British boxing that resulted in most of Britain's best amateur boxers turning professional after the 2008 Olympics.

In addition, Edwards left after leading the British team to three medals in Beijing, the best performance for 56 years, before his successor, veteran trainer Hickey, quit the role last September.

It was a quality team in Beijing but we've got a quality team now with a lot of talent

Flyweight Khalid Yafai

The British team failed to win a medal at last September's World Championships but British boxers have excelled this year, winning a host of medals at various high-profile tournaments across the globe.

"It was just a matter of moving it forward in the gym and getting the right structure," added McCracken, a former British middleweight champion and world title challenger.

"We've moved on quickly, we're identifying the best kids and we're getting them to these tournaments and showing we can go and mix it with anybody.

"The boys were fantastic out there, they all stepped up and with a bit more luck we would have brought home two or three gold medals.

"It's a very tough tournament, the Europeans, especially in Russia, and my feeling was it was maybe nine months too soon, but they really stepped up. I was quietly confident we could nick some medals, I just wasn't sure how many.

"We're one of the top boxing nations out there now and why can't the success continue? If we keep getting the right kids in, keep getting them the right international experience and coaching and training camps, I don't see why we can't keep going from strength to strength."

As well as Yafai and Weaver, lightweight Tom Stalker won silver, while Yafai's younger brother Gamal and Welshman Andrew Selby both took bantamweight bronze.

And Khalid Yafai agrees with McCracken that this British team can only get better and will be at its peak by the time the London Olympics come round in 2012.

Behind the scenes with Britain's top amateur boxers

He stated: "It was a quality team in Beijing but we've got a quality team now with a lot of talent and we've got another two years until London, so God knows what the team will be like then.

"Some of the younger members have only been to two or three senior tournaments and they won't reach their peak until they're 21, 22, 23 but by the time London comes round they will have been to about 20, 25 tournaments and they'll be experienced and know what to expect."

Weaver, who has only been in GB's elite 'podium' squad for 10 months, added: "I've won a gold and two silvers this year and beat some good kids and a few Olympians. It's been some year and hopefully it carries on.

"The team spirit is great, all the boys get on. It's only a young team, an inexperienced team, so in two years' time it's going to be unreal."



see also
GB secure three silvers at Euros
12 Jun 10 |  Boxing
GB boxers clinch five Euro medals
09 Jun 10 |  Boxing
Weaver & Yafai guaranteed medals
08 Jun 10 |  Boxing
British boxing names podium squad
28 Jan 10 |  Boxing
Ex-pro McCracken to guide GB team
05 Nov 09 |  Boxing
British boxing chief Hickey quits
14 Sep 09 |  Boxing
Amateur boxing explained
01 Mar 06 |  Boxing


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