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Page last updated at 20:09 GMT, Thursday, 7 August 2008 21:09 UK

Medal hope Gavin out of Olympics

Frankie Gavin
Gavin has been unable to get down to the 60kg limit

British gold medal prospect Frankie Gavin has pulled out of the Olympic Games having failed to make his weight.

The lightweight world amateur champion is now flying home from the Team GB training camp in Macau.

Gavin, 22, would have needed to weigh in at 60kg (9st 6lb) on every day he competed in Beijing but was 3lb (1.36kg) over that mark on Thursday.

British former Olympic medallist Richie Woodhall questioned team planning, describing it as a "total let-down".

Southpaw Gavin had beaten every major competitor in his Olympic class after becoming the first Briton to win an amateur world title in Chicago last year.

But with one of Britain's brightest boxing medal hopes now suddenly not able to compete in Beijing, Gavin's preparations and the team's decision to enter him in that category will be scrutinised.

"Regrettably it is clear that Frankie will not make his weight before tomorrow morning's weigh-in," admitted head coach Terry Edwards on Thursday.

"Frankie has been working his whole boxing career towards the Olympic Games and he is obviously completely devastated.

"He gave 110% but it is the last bit, where you have to shed the water, that is crucial.

GB boxing coach Terry Edwards refuses to apportion blame

"In the end there was nothing left to come off and at that stage I took the responsibility of withdrawing him.

"I didn't want Frankie to suffer any ill-effects to his health from being that dehydrated."

Woodhall, who won light-middleweight (71kg) bronze at Seoul 1988, told BBC Sport he could not accept a boxer failing to make the weight for an Olympic event.

"There's that many people - nutritionists, physiotherapists - involved these days that are paid good money," said Woodhall.

"It's been a total let-down by everyone. Making the weight is just not an issue - you make the weight."

Edwards felt Gavin had done everything he could to make his weight.

"He was determined to go ahead and give it his best shot, which I think he did," Edwards told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"That determination and attitude shows that, in my opinion, Frankie hasn't failed. I think he is a tremendous talent and he will come back from this.

"It was my decision. Frankie did everything I asked him to do and maybe a little bit more and in the end I decided he had done enough and I called it a day.

"It was one of the hardest decisions I have made in my boxing career. I made it for the right reasons, to protect the health and safety of one of my boxers. There was no argument."

Woodhall critical after Gavin's exit

Gavin, from Birmingham, was supremely confident ahead of Beijing, telling BBC Sport: "I should win [at] the Olympics."

But BBC boxing commentator Mike Costello said he had struggled to make the weight all year.

"For the first time in his life he has been training like a professional not an amateur, and he has been getting bigger as a result and fighting a running battle with his weight."

Costello said Gavin was not able to step up to the heavier class because fellow British boxing team-mate Bradley Saunders had already qualified in the light-welterweight.

"At the Olympics, the boxers have to make the weight every day they box," said Costello.

"Even if he had made the first weigh-in he might have struggled afterwards. Dehydration might have become a real problem."

Tommy Chaney, Gavin's amateur coach at the Hall Green boxing club in Birmingham, said Gavin's predicament should not be allowed to affect the rest of the British team.

"Frankie feels like his world has fallen in," said Chaney.

"It's important now that the attention is shifted to the remaining seven boxers who all have a fantastic chance to medal.

"That's what Frankie wants and he'll be watching avidly on the television despite how upset he is right now."

Boxing manager and promoter Frank Maloney said he felt it was wrong for amateurs to be training "non-stop" in camps like professional boxers - and also insisted that Gavin's head coach must now be sacked.

BBC Sport's Matt Slater
"If you're going to fight in an amateur tournament, you've got to train in the amateur way," he said. "If you train regular as a pro, you're body will change - and the weight gain will happen.

"Someone's head has got to roll because of the amount of money that has been put into this fighter.

"Frankie has to take a lot of responsibility. If he knew he couldn’t make the weight, he should have said ages ago and not gone there and wasted the taxpayer's money.

"But the overall responsibility has to go down to the head coach. The man at the top has to pay the price."

Gavin must now decide if he is to remain an amateur until the London Olympics in 2012, or turn professional - as he was already expected to do following Beijing.

Team GB chief Simon Clegg, confirming Gavin's departure from the squad, said: "It is always regretful when an athlete who has qualified for the Olympic Games is unable to compete.

"The BOA's focus is now to support its remaining 312 Team GB athletes who begin competing this Saturday."

see also
Team GB for Beijing
21 Jul 08 |  Team GB
GB boxers secure Beijing places
01 Mar 08 |  Olympics
Amateur boxing explained
01 Mar 06 |  Boxing
Boxing jargon guide
13 Dec 05 |  Get Involved

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