'Peg boxer eyes London Games

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

WINNIPEG - A few years ago, one of Winnipeg’s most promising young punchers looked like he had a legitimate shot at qualifying for the 2008 Olympics in China.

Didn’t happen.

Now, Crescentwood’s Andrew Gardiner is picking himself up off that canvas and starting down the road towards the 2012 Olympics in London, England. The 23-year-old could make big strides towards that goal should he perform well at a pair of tournaments in Puerto Rico this week.

Gardiner was asked to join the national B boxing team to compete there after he had run into some bad luck at both the national championships and the national final team selection tourney.

“At the nationals this year, I won my first fight but I got cut so I couldn’t continue,” Gardiner said Sunday. “Then, at the final team selection, I made it to the finals and I was winning the fight, then I got a nosebleed and they stopped it. So, I’m on the B team and that’s why I got the opportunity to go to this.”

Gardiner, who won the 2006 Canadian junior welterweight and 2008 middleweight titles, leaves Wednesday to compete in the light heavyweight category.

“Every little bit of international experience counts,” said Gardiner, who hopes to earn his way to the world championships. “I’m not sure what’s going on. There’s a Pan Am Games this year and I was hoping they would send the guy from the A team to the Pan Am Games and a different one to the world championships. They haven’t told me anything but I’m crossing my fingers to get to go to the world championship (in Azerbaijan), which is an Olympic qualifier. You finish top 10 and you’re going to the Olympics.”

If that doesn’t work, there is still Plan B.

“The Olympics is what I’m aiming for right now,” said the 6-foot-1 pugilist now fighting at 178 pounds. “If I don’t get a shot at qualifying this year, then I’m going to go to nationals and kick ass, and see what I can do about making it to the Olympics in London next year.”

Gardiner lost to the eventual gold-medal winner at last year’s nationals.

“I was hoping to get another shot at him this year but he turned pro.”

Winnipeg’s Jonathan Quinit, who boxes in the 49-kilogram class, will also make the trip to Puerto Rico, Gardiner said. The tournaments runs June 30–July 8.


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