British boxer Martin Ward targets place at London 2012

British boxer Martin Ward won the London International Invitational last week and is targeting a successful London Games

By Daniel Jolly

British boxer Martin Ward believes he is the man to beat in the Lightweight division, after claiming gold at the London International Invitational last week.

Ward capped off 2011 in style by winning the top prize at the test event, held at the ExCel Arena, after convincingly beating German Eugen Burhard 10-5 in the final.

Ward will be competing for a place at London 2012 against the likes of Iain Weaver and Josh Taylor – and the 20-year-old is confident of claiming a spot in the GB Olympic squad.

“I have sent a message to all of the GB lightweight guys that I am the one to beat and I want to stay top of the pile,” said Ward.

“What will be will be and I think my destiny is to compete at London 2012. I have trained so hard throughout my life for the chance to be on the greatest stage in world sport so I am not going to let that chance slip.

“I have still got to qualify and hopefully I can go to the next qualifiers in April and show everyone what I can do.”

Despite crashing out at the second round stage in the recent World Amateur Championships in Azerbaijan, after a 21-20 defeat to Brazilian Robson Conceicao, Ward enjoyed a successful year after reaching the quarter-finals of European Championships in Turkey last June.

Ward trains at Repton Boxing Club in Bethnal Green, which has a track record for producing champion quality boxers, with Maurice Hope, John H Stacey and Audley Harrison, on their roll of honour.

And Ward is tipped to follow in those famous footsteps, just a year after claiming the Featherweight title at the Amateur Boxing Association Championships.

He attended the Beijing Olympics four years ago after receiving a special invite and the experience wetted his appetite to pursue his Olympic gold medal dreams at next summer’s Games in London.

“They sent me out to Beijing when I was 15 to get the experience and since then I have thought about wanting to be at another Games, added the 20-year-old.

“Hopefully when 2012 comes around, I am standing on the podium with the same coloured medal round my neck. I hope I can make this dream come true and fighting in front of a home crowd is an unbelievable experience.

“With a big, partisan crowd behind you, it adds a lot of pressure as well as making you more determined to win and with my family and friends supporting me, it makes me more excited and fuels my hunger to win even more.

“I want to book my place in London before I am starting thinking about it. I am sure half the stadium will be sold to my loved ones if I qualify.

“I take every fight as it comes, every performance is different and I just go out and think about the fighter in front of me.I am not going to get ahead of myself and think about the Olympics just yet.”

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