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2012 OLYMPICS: BARRIGA’S MEDAL CHANCES


PhilBoxing.com



Mark Anthony Barriga.

The lone Filipino boxing London Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga boosted his chances of winning a medal in the 2012 Olympics. The 19-year-old light-flyweight sensation won the gold medal in the Sydney Jackson Memorial Boxing Tournament at the Universal Uzbekistan Sports Complex.


Held in Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan, the tournament gathered the best boxers from Asia with the host country harvesting six gold medals.

Barriga surprised the hometown crowd by defeating Uzbekistan's Shakhobiddin Zoirov, 13-10, in the semi-finals. Then he edged out Russia's AIBA World Championships silver medalist David Ayrapetyan to win 10-9 to successfully defend his tournament title.

Barriga won over the same boxer in the finals of the same tournament last year. He and the power-punching Russian will compete in the coming 2012 London Olympics.

However, Ian Clark Bautista, the only other Filipino semifinalist in the tournament, met the flamboyant Uzbek Shexriyor Isakov and lost, 10-13, in their 52-kilogram bout and settled for the bronze medal.

Barriga is the only Filipino boxer who qualified for the 2012 London Olympics. He became eligible for the Olympics after finishing ninth overall in the International Boxing Association (AIBA) World Boxing Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan last October. Barriga’s quarterfinal opponent won the gold medal in that event making the Filipino qualify for the Olympics.

Only aged 18 that time, the boxer from Panabo City, Davao Del Norte has earned a ticket to London after Zou defeated Ayrapetyan of Russia, 15-8, to advance to the light flyweight division finals of the 2011 AIBA World Championships.

According to AIBA guidelines, a boxer earns a ticket to the London Olympics if he reaches the quarterfinals, or if he is a round-of-16 loser to the eventual finalists. Barriga’s qualification was based on the second criteria as he was defeated by China’s Zou Shiming, 12-5, during the round-of-16 stage of the tournament. Zou was the ultimate gold medalist.

Harry Tanamor, also a light flyweight like Barriga, was the lone Filipino boxer to enter the 2008 Beijing Olympics, having won the silver medal in the 2007 World Championships in Chicago against Zou.

Not only in boxing, Barriga became the first Filipino athlete to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. “Boxing is my childhood dream. It has been a part of my life ever since, that is why I am happy that I now got the chance to fulfill it,” he said.

There is a mounting stress for him to bring home the first Philippine Olympic gold, yet Barriga remained confident. He commented, “The pressure to do well only drives me to work harder. Our country deserves a gold medal and I’m hoping I’d be the one to give Philippines that honor.”


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Maloney L. Samaco.


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