Teenage boxing sensation Sameenah Toussaint admitted complacency almost cost her dearly after she scraped through her opening bout at Birmingham 2022.
The 19-year-old Watford-born featherweight was making her Commonwealth Games debut in the Round of 16 contest against Wales fighter Zoe Andrews at the NEC.
Her class appeared too much for her rival in the opening round, which she claimed on all five judges’ scorecards, before Andrews responded impressively to take the second round 3-2.
Toussaint ultimately did enough to prevail via a split decision but while she was delighted to progress to the quarterfinals, she identified lessons that need to be learned.
“I’m ecstatic, very good. I knew it was close and I knew the second round was 3-2 the other way, so I knew I had to put a big round in at the end,” said Toussaint.
“I thought I got a bit complacent in the second round so for it to be a split decision was fair enough. I will take a lot from a performance like that on this stage.
“There is a lot at stake, it’s a Commonwealth Games and I’ve come here to perform. I got the job done. We’re both 19 but she’s 2003 and I’m 2002 so I’m a bit older.
“We’re both young so it’s crazy to be at this stage. We know each other as we’re Wales and England and we’ve been training together a bit so there’s no bad blood, she’s a nice girl.”
This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, comprises of over 400 athletes, all vying for medal success.
Toussaint was a ten-year-old cowering behind heavy bags when women’s boxing made its debut at the London 2012 Olympics, where Nicola Adams swept to her historic first gold medal.
She had been dragged kicking and screaming to the local gym by her dad to learn the art of defence but after being intimidated initially, Toussaint persisted and soon found her feet.
A first junior title followed two years later at the age of 12 before she watched all the boxing at the last Commonwealth Games in 2018 as she eyed her own bid for Birmingham.
And after getting over the nerves of her first bout to set up a quarter-final with Australia’s Tina Rahimi, Toussaint insisted she possesses the ability to secure a medal.
“The nerves got to me a bit but once I got settled, it was all good,” she said. "I’m glad to get the first fight out of the way and I’m here to go all the way, a medal would be great.”
At just 18, Toussaint’s opponent Andrews was also experiencing her first taste of the Commonwealth Games and said she was always up against it after going up in weight for the opportunity.
“I knew it was going to be tough coming here with 54kg going up against 57kg. I knew it was going to be even tougher boxing an English girl in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham," she said.
“Her reach impacted me massively. I’m usually the tallest in my weight but she was rangy and very good. She’s a good boxer and I think she may well go a long way here.”
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