Remembering Sydney: Audley Harrison makes Team GB boxing history

Remembering Sydney: Audley Harrison makes Team GB boxing history

01 October 2016 / 09:00

It’s 16 years since the Sydney Olympic Games, when Team GB returned from Australia with 11 golds, 10 silvers and seven bronze medals, which back then was our most successful Games since 1920.

It was the first Games that Team GB athletes had benefitted from National Lottery funding, following its introduction in 1997.

Audley2Harrison1800Sydney2000SBTwo years on from Commonwealth Games victory in Kuala Lumpur, Audley Harrison went to Sydney 2000 with just one goal, coming away with a super heavyweight gold medal around his neck.

And that’s exactly what he left with.

AudleyHarrison1800Sydney2000SB

The referee stepped in to end the Team GB man’s first-round encounter against Russia’s Alexei Lezin, such was the punishment Harrison was dishing out.

And the big man went on to guarantee himself a medal with a 19-9 second round win over Ukraine’s Aleksey Masikin.

Harrison then upgraded his guaranteed medal to a minimum of silver thanks to a comprehensive 32-16 win over Italy’s Paolo Vidoz in the semi-final.

And another pummelling was dished out in the final as Harrison beat Kazakh Mukhtarkhan Dildabekov to become Team GB’s first boxing gold medallist since 1968.

"The win is the most important thing. I'm a very happy man,” said the then 28-year-old.

"I said it was my destiny and I proved I'm not just a man who can talk, I'm a man who can deliver the goods as well.

"I'm not going to make any plans now I'm just going to enjoy this moment. This is a special moment. This is the Olympic Games.

"Then I'm going to go away, get myself fixed up and you'll be hearing a lot more from Audley Harrison."

And he was right.

Harrison turned professional in 2001 and made his way through the ranks to fight for the European heavyweight title in 2007.

He suffered defeat at the hands of Michael Sprott but came back stronger and in 2010 he avenged the loss to Sprott to win the vacant EBU belt at London’s Alexandra Palace.

He soon vacated the belt though to make way for a shot at the WBA title against champion and compatriot David Haye.

Harrison lost the bout and it sparked the end of his career, with his official retirement coming in March 2014.

Sportsbeat 2016

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