NICOLA ADAMS spearheaded a stunning day of success for Great Britain boxers at the Olympic qualifier in Samsun, Turkey, with eight booking their places at this summer’s Rio Olympics.
Adams set her sights on becoming a double Olympic champion after outpointing Norwegian Marielle Hansen in the women’s flyweight division she dominated to claim gold at London 2012.
And GB team-mates Galal Yafai, Qais Ashfaq, Muhammad Ali, Joe Cordina, Josh Buatsi, Lawrence Okolie and Joe Joyce all followed suit to confirm their respective places in Brazil with wins.
Adams will become only the second British boxer, and the first since middleweight Harry Mallin in 1924, to retain her Olympic title if she goes all the way in Rio.
Adams said: “It feels really good to know that I will be defending my title in Rio - it is no longer the Road to Rio, I am going to Rio.
“I’ve qualified and I am ready to defend my title and hopefully become a double Olympic champion.
“Through this tournament I feel like I’ve boxed really well and I’ve gone from strength to strength. I have not taken anyone lightly and have treated every competition as a final.
“Every time I get in the ring I have to give 110 per cent because my opponents have nothing to lose and everything to gain so I have to make sure I go in there with my A-game and come away with the victory.”
But there was a shock for Ireland’s reigning Olympic lightweight champion Katie Taylor who suffered her first loss in almost five years to accomplished Azerbaijani Yana Alekseevna.
Taylor will get one more chance to reach the Olympics at the World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan next month.
Heavyweight Okolie pulled off arguably the performance of the day to outpoint Azerbaijan’s world number three Abdulkadir Abdullayev and reach the Olympics, less than six months after joining the elite GB squad.
Yafai finds himself on a similar trajectory, booking a light-flyweight berth with a win over Spain’s Samuel Carmona Heredia to emulate his older brother Kal who went to the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
The 23-year-old Yafai only started boxing seriously at the age of 18 and until December last year was still working part time in a local Land Rover factory.
Ashfaq survived a bloody last round to beat Ukraine’s Mykola Butsenko and earn a place at bantamweight, and flyweight Muhammad Ali set a furious pace en route to outpointing Bulgaria’s Daniel Asenov.
Reigning European champion Cordina squeezed past Ireland’s David Oliver Joyce in a quality lightweight bout, before Buatsi overcame another Ukrainian, Oleksandr Khyzhniak.
After Okolie’s incredible win it was left to super-heavyweight Joe Joyce to round things off with the day’s only stoppage, outclassing Hungary’s Istvan Bernath and forcing three standing counts in the final round.
Anthony Fowler will bid to become the ninth British fighter to reach Rio when the Liverpool middleweight boxes in the bronze-medal match on Saturday after losing his semi-final to Christian Mbilli Assomo of France.
Both David Oliver Joyce and flyweight Brendan Irvine will also get a second chance over the weekend to book further Olympic places for Ireland.