Britain’s only boxer in Athens, the outstanding 17-year-old Amir Khan, made a great start in his 57-60kg category against Greek hope, Marios Kaperonis. Taking one round to study his opponent, Khan then proceeded to cover Kaperonis in a hail of precise blows that forced the referee to invoke the ‘Mercy Rule’ with 40 seconds of the third round remaining. At the stoppage, the 32-12 points on the scorecard demonstrated the Bolton youngster’s superiority.
Next up last Friday was Bulgarian European amateur champion, Dimitar Stilianov, an awkward southpaw, and 10 years Khan’s senior. Again, the world junior champion started cautiously, fathoming out his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, even going slightly behind on the judges’ scorecards. He then stepped forward with meaningful accuracy and smart counter-punching to methodically demolish the Bulgarian. The scorecard read 37-21 as his defeated opponent left the ring badly bruised, a blank stare in his eyes.
Korean Baik Jung Sub will have provided the next test for the teenager last Tuesday night – if Khan comes through that encounter, reigning Olympic champion Mario Kindelam lies in wait, a challenge of the highest order.
Gold-medal favourites Portugal were eliminated after the group stages following a further humiliating 4-2 defeat by Costa Rica. The Central American team came up against Argentina, who have yet to concede a goal in the competition, in the quarter-finals, and were sent packing by a 4-0 margin. The Argentinians look unstoppable, and will take on Italy in the semis. The European U-21 champions scraped through their group and did little to indicate improvement in the 1-0 extra time quarter final win against Mali.Surprise team of these Olympics, Iraq, continued their impressive form with a win over Australia.Their semifinal opponents are Paraguay, who finally overcame the hitherto unbeaten South Koreans 3-2.
In the women’s tournament World Champions Germany are still very much on target for gold, with all of their principal rivals failing to convince.
Despite not beating Mark Spitz’s record of seven individual gold medals, American Michael Phelps was the undoubted star in the pool with six gold and two bronze medals to his name, including several new world and Olympic record times. Ian Thorpe, Aaron Peirsol, Grant Hackett, and Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima all shone with multiple gold in Athens. Team GB ended up with three medals, most notably from Stephen Parry in the 200m butterfly, and David Davies in the 1500m freestyle, both swimmers recording new British best times in taking bronze medals. Most notable newcomer of these games was 15-year-old Hungarian Daniel Gyurta, who pressed Kitajima all the way to take silver in the 100m breaststroke final.