Maxwell sets his sights on Rio after Baku selection

Frank Bruno once said that boxing is the toughest and loneliest sport in the world. Motivation is key and, for Team GB’s Sam Maxwell, the end goal of the Olympic Games drives every run and every sparring session.

Light welterweight boxer Maxwell, a bronze medallist at last year’s Commonwealth Games, identifies his Olympic dream as the driving force behind his training with 457 days to go until Rio 2016.

“It just keeps you motivated. It gives you that extra incentive to train that little bit harder and that’s going to be that little extra percentage that will get you the wins in the fights,” said Maxwell.

The Liverpool-born fighter’s next big opportunity to test himself will come next month when he competes for Team GB at the Baku 2015 European Games and the 26-year-old is looking forward to gaining vital multi-sport experience in a year packed with international competition after being named alonside eight other male boxers yesterday.

When he steps into the Crystal Hall Arena in Baku on the June 12th, Maxwell will be just moments away from representing Team GB for the very first time, taking him one step closer to realising his ultimate dream of competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The boxer will be Team GB’s representative in the 64kg weight category at Baku 2015, where he will be hoping to gain a qualifying spot for World Championships in Doha this October, which could ultimately earn him a place in Brazil next year.

Speaking about his delight at being selected for the European Games, he told Team GB: “It’s a massive multi-sport event and the way they build it up it’s like a European Olympics so it’s an absolutely massive achievement to get there and compete for Team GB. It’ll add another experience to my career.”

The opportunity to compete in the Europe’s first ever multi-sport Games is the first big stride Maxwell will make towards what would be his Olympic debut in Rio, having narrowly missed out on London 2012.

In spite of not being involved in the action himself, Maxwell says he still has fond memories of the Games having managed to get a first-hand taste for the action when he watched Team GB’s Fred Evans fight his way to winning a silver medal.

“I was lucky enough to see a fight during the Olympics, with 10,000 fans screaming for Evans and Team GB - it was a great experience,” recalls Maxwell.

Three years on from experiencing the Olympic spirit from the other side of the ring, Maxwell admits that it made him want to be part of Rio 2016 even more: “I look at what the team achieved and everything that came from them winning medals at the Olympics and just being there and experiencing it - it spurs me on and I want that.”

With Baku 2015 potentially one of three major events he could compete in this year, alongside European Championships in Sofia in July, and World Champs in October, Maxwell faces a busy summer ahead. Yet he insists that it is a good thing, especially if it results in him achieving his main goal by the end of 2015.

“As long as you get selected it’s a positive in that there are three chances qualify to for the Olympic Games, so it’s a busy year but that just means that by the end of the year I’ll probably have qualified for Rio. That’s a massive incentive for me to train hard, knuckle down and then hopefully be rewarded.”

by Alex Mills