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Women's boxing nod could give China three more golds

CHINA has high hopes of dominating women's boxing at the 2012 Olympics after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided earlier this month to include it on the London programme.

Women fighters will compete in three events in London, and China -- which topped the Olympic medals table with 51 golds in Beijing -- has an eye on at least two of the new titles.

"China will have a great chance to grab another two gold medals in the London Olympic Games," Chang Jianping, president of the Chinese Boxing Association, told the Global Times.

"To say that we have already booked the three London Olympic gold medals in women's boxing is surely an overstatement (but) there are possibilities that China strives for golds in all three divisions."

Although women's boxing only won formal approval in China three years ago, Chinese fighters won five golds, two silvers and four bronzes in 13 events at the last women's amateur world championships on home soil in Ningbo last year.

Inclusion in the London Games will almost certainly result in greater funding for women's boxing from a state system obsessed with Olympic success.

"The IOC's decision will not only glamorise the obscure sport in a wider context globally, but should also greatly elevate the sport of women's boxing in China," Chang added.

Another boost for the squad is the return of China's first professional world champion, Zhang Xiyan, to the amateur ranks earlier this year.

Zhang, who won the women's WBA flyweight belt in 2007, shed tears when she heard the news that her sport was to be included in the London schedule, China Daily reported.

"I couldn't be happier, I've been waiting for it for so long," the 29-year-old southpaw told the paper. "Nothing, nothing compares to an Olympic gold."

Twelve women will fight in each of three weights at the London Olympics -- flyweight (48-51kg), lightweight (56-60kg) and middleweight (69-75kg).


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