ESSEX’s Olympic boxing hopeful Nina Smith has had her dreams of fighting at the London Games shattered.
The gutsy 29-year-old from Grays has been told that she has lost her place at British Boxing’s national training centre at Sheffield, ruling her out of the running for the UK’s Under-51kg category.
It is a heartbreaking decision for Smith who learned her fighting trade at Chadwell St Mary’s Amateur Boxing Club.
“It is a huge disappointment for me, I’m totally gutted,” she said.
“The decision came out of the blue. The coaches told me that it was because of funding. “Since I found out I’ve not really wanted to tell people.
“But when I look at it, most of the female fighters in the national squad have been fighting for over 10 years — and I only started four years ago.
“So I know making the squad and getting this close to representing Great Britain was a big achievement in itself.
“I suppose in the end I lacked a bit of experience,” she added.
GB Boxing’s press officer Lee Murgatroyd said: “Nina Smith has been released from the GB Boxing squad.
“In the last 12 months Nina has not made as much progress as the coaches would have expected to see and, in line with the ‘no compromise’ approach set by UK Sport — which funds Olympic sport in Great Britain — it was no longer possible to keep Nina in the squad as a funded athlete.”
But the Thurrock fighter was unlucky to be chasing the same UK slot as Nicola Adams who is Britain’s most decorated and experienced female fighter.
Adams is a former world amateur double silver medallist and is current European gold medal holder.
In a cruel twist of fate, Adams dropped down to Smith’s under-51kg category rather than box at the heavier weight in the run up to the Games.
Some fight experts believe that if Adams was in a different category, Smith could still be at the Sheffield training centre where she has sparred and trained for six hours a day for the last 18 months.
Smith is now back at her job in The City.
She has got Olympic tickets for boxing — which she bought hoping that family members would see her in action — but she admitted that it will be difficult to be just a spectator.
“I don’t know how I feel about seeing the selected girls fight,” she added.
And despite the heartache, Smith still intends to compete in boxing’s world championships which take place in May in China.
“I’ve spent so long training for this, I want to see it through. But I’ll be going up a weight category for the worlds — and fighting at 54kg. That’s my more natural weight. I’m not going to be drawn on what I do after that,” she said.
But she also hinted that — like many Olympians who got to the Games at the second time of asking — that she has not ruled out having another shot.
“I’m 29 now and as a woman you can fight until you’re 34. It will be interesting to see what the weight categories are for women’s boxing for the 2016 Games. There is talk that there will be more weight categories,” she added.
Boxing takes place at East London’s ExCel centre between July 28 and August 12.
A total of 250 men and just 36 women fighters from all over the world are vying for the handful of medals.