Bates targeting Tokyo after capturing National title

By Hayden Moore

ST MARY’S Boxing Club’s George Bates is focusing solely on qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo after boxing his way to the National Elite 63kg Championship title.

The now two-time National champion secured the prize after surmounting the challenge of Portlaoise man Wayne Kelly, winning out 4-1.

George Bates National Elite 63kg Champion compressor

St Mary’s boxer George Bates has propelled himself into contention for a shot at Olympic Games qualfification after capturing the National Elite 63kg Championship title following his victory over Wayne Kelly in Friday night’s decider in the National Stadium

Bates previously captured the title at 60kg, but made the jump to the Olympic weight of 63kg with the hopes of securing a spot in the qualifiers for the 2020 Summer Games.

Beaten in the 2018 Final by James McGivern of St Georges, the Tallaght man told The Echo that he had his eyes firmly fixed on capturing the title on this occasion.

“The National Elites is my main goal at the start of every year and I’m just over the moon,” he said.

“My coach got my tactics spot on. I pressed from the start and didn’t offer [Kelly] any ground, then I started to find my range in the second and third round and I was able to start landing shots more.”

Both Bates and Kelly traded blows in the first round, but the latter landed the cleaner shots.

In the second, Bates started to enjoy more success with the right hook to the body and straight left before slipping shots and finding his rhythm in the third.

Moving forward, Bates’ plan is to finish his exams in TUD Dublin and become a qualified electri-cian before dedicating his life to training over the next three months in preparation for the Euro-pean Olympic Qualifying Tournament in London.

From Tuesday onwards, the 26-year-old will be training with the High Performance Unit in Abbotstown and Head Coach at St Mary’s Noel Burke is looking forward to seeing his fighter enter the Olympic qualification process.

“George is going for the Olympic qualifiers over in London in March and he’s in pole position for it now after that win,” said Burke.

“He’s done all he can, he’s in the hot-seat now and he’ll be over there training with the High Performance Unit from December 3.

“It was a good contest. [Wayne Kelly] is training in the high-performance unit, he’s a full-time boxer which is better for us.

“George is an electrician by trade and he’s a hard worker, he comes in and gets his boxing done after work.

“George’s number one ambition now is Olympic qualification, and he’s willing to sacrifice what he has to, to get that.

“This is his sixth final in the elites, he’s always there and he looks after himself very well. When the heat is on, George always shows up and delivers.”

The European qualifiers in London take place between March 13 and 23 with a total of eight places up for grabs at 63kg, but between now and then, Bates must go through a selection process with the High Performance Unit.

 “It’s not easy having to get up earlier to go training, go to work, come home to have your dinner and then go back training in the evening,” Bates explained.

“I’d love to be able to just get up and focus completely on training, but look, you play the hand you’re dealt.

“My next goal is to qualify. I can’t look past that. I’m just looking to get there and that’s all that matters.”

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