A change in the qualification process for boxers attempting to make it to the Olympic Games has prevented T&T's Nigel Paul from sealing a place at the Olympics along with his countryman Aaron Prince.
With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic preventing the qualifiers in the region of the Americas, Paul who was ranked third in his division (Super Heavyweight), was set to be among the participants at the Olympic Games until the International Olympic Committee (IOC) changed the selection process.
It is understood the IOC used only a few international tournaments to pick the Americas top four boxers, namely the World Championships 2019, the Pan American Games 2019 and the World Championships of 2017. Paul who had scored a lot of points at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games for the past four years had lost all those points, among other tournaments.
At the end of the process, Paul moved from third to fifth in his division and therefore failed to qualify. Contacted, Paul said he wouldn't say that he is disappointed at not qualifying, since, as a man of faith, he believes that if it wasn't God's will for him to be at the Olympics, then he wouldn't be there.
"I did what I was supposed to do, I trained hard, I was disciplined but unfortunately I wouldn't be able to go to the Games, but in terms of disappointment, I'm really trying to keep my mind steady. My focus basically just switched to the next. The last Olympics was my first major event. I've never been to a World Championships before, Commonwealth Games, Pan Am, nothing, so seeing that I wouldn't be able to go to this Olympics, the next thing on the card for me is the World Championships and that's in October in Russia. I really wanted to make it to the Olympics, but since I can't, I'll have to make it to the podium at a World Championships and that's my focus right now," Paul said.
Paul in 2016, took just 10 fights to secure a place at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where he was knocked out in the preliminary round by Nigerian Efe Ajagba. But he continued to grow in the sport, telling Guardian Media Sports that he was hoping that this Olympics would have been his last, as he has been seriously contemplating whether to go pro or remain as an amateur fighter.
The bulky fighter turns 32 on Monday and said he just might consider the next Olympic Games in France in four years time.
With Paul now out officially, it means the country would only be represented by one fighter- Aaron Prince, who contest the middleweight category.
Prince qualified as the fourth-ranked boxer in his division in the region of the Americas. Paul said he was extremely elated when he heard that Prince had qualified for the Olympics, and noted the determined Prince might even create history by winning a match or two.