Politics in sports


Exclusive: Australia "staying out of politics" after facing Russian boxers in New Delhi, claims coach

Exclusive: Australia "staying out of politics" after facing Russian boxers in New Delhi, claims coach
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Australian head coach Santiago Nieva has claimed that his team are "staying out of politics" after facing Russian boxers at the start of the International Boxing Association (IBA) Women’s World Championships here.

Several members of the Common Cause Alliance pulled out of the event in the Indian capital, citing the IBA’s decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under their national flags and anthems in contrary to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) recommendations.

Boxing Australia is a member of the group but chose not to follow governing bodies from the likes of the United States, Britain, Ireland and The Netherlands in boycotting the World Championships.

Nieva told insidethegames that he was not instructed by Boxing Australia officials to shun the event in New Delhi.

We are here to compete,

said Nieva.

I never got anything other than to come here.

We are staying out of politics, our focus was to come here to get a good results.

It’s nothing that we had to think about much.

Australia's Emma-Sue Greentree, right, overcame Russia's Saltanat Medenova, left, in her opening light heavyweight bout in New Delhi ©IBA

The Australian Olympic Committee has pledged its support behind the IOC’s push to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate as neutrals at next year’s Olympics in Paris.

The Australian Government, though, has raised questions over the move, with its Sports Minister Anika Wells among officials from 35 countries that called for clarity on the IOC’s definition of neutrality.

Of course, you read what is out there but we came to prepare and participate," Nieva, heading a nine-strong team here, told insidethegames.

We were never told anything different so we went ahead.

I focus on our boxers and we cannot let any distractions guide where we are heading.

We stick to the rules.

The country that are here are here to compete and treat this like any other competition.

Australia have beaten two Russian opponents so far, with Monique Suraci defeating Anna Aedma in the bantamweight division before Emma-Sue Greentree overcame Saltanat Medenova in the light heavyweight category.

Russia is a strong boxing country — that’s all that matters,

said Nieva.

We know that they have good boxers and we want to beat them in the ring, just like any other bout.

They were tough bouts and in both we ended up 3-2 in favour of the five judges.

In the new rule it goes to a bout review and in both of those the evaluators were split 1-1 so we ended up winning 4-3.

Australian Monique Suraci, right, celebrates after beating Russian Anna Aedma, left, in a close bantamweight clash ©IBA

A total of 11 countries have boycotted the event, scheduled to run until March 26.

France and the Philippines are two other Common Cause Alliance members that decided to send teams to New Delhi.

Nieva, who was previously high-performance director and men’s head coach for the Indian boxing team, claimed the World Championships was the "best preparation" for Paris 2024, even though the event is no longer a qualifying event following the suspension of the IBA by the IOC.

We got off to a good start, winning six out of seven bouts so far and beat some strong boxers — two very tight difficult bouts with Russia where we ended up victorious,

said the Swede.

We are happy so far.

We know there is a long way left but it’s always good to get a good start.

There are 65 countries here and this is one of the biggest World Championships so far.

I know some countries are not here but in any Championships there is always some country missing so I don’t want to go into that.

We have to beat those who are here.


© insidethegames

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