Delfine Persoon’s name will be in the pot when the Olympic qualifier draw is made in London this afternoon.
The former WBC world champion and fighter who gave Katie Taylor her toughest test to date looked likely to miss the London based European leg of the tournament after suffering a hernia in her neck that all but left her without the use of her left arm.
However, she will fight through the pain barrier to joins her fellow Olympic lightweight hopefuls in the draw and become a potential rival for Irish boxing’s other world class lightweight Kellie Harrington.
The Beligan, who temporarly gave up her pursuit of a Taylor rematch to return amateur and follow an Olympic dream, claims the three round quick fire nature of the fight will help in terms of pain management.
She has a safety net in terms of the Paris held World’s qualifying leg later in the year, but the police officer wants to secure a slot in Tokyo as early as possible.
“If it were professional boxing, a 10-round match, I would never have done it. But in Olympic boxing, three three-minute rounds, I dare. If it doesn’t work here, then I have another chance in Paris,” Persoon told Belgian press.
“I feel that it does not work at all here, then I can operate as soon as possible. This way I can accelerate the return of the strength in my arm and I hope to be ready for Paris in time. If I didn’t compete in London now, I would have seen one of those two qualifying opportunities fly by anyway and I still would have to go to Paris.”
While Persoon is a standout and eyecatching name in the draw, most Irish attention will be on the 13 Irish fighters and who they are drawn against at 4pm.
At least 40 nations and over 300 boxers, including Ireland’s thirteen-strong male and female squad, will battle it out in the English capital.
Seven of the 13 Olympic weights (the limits that require top 6 and top 5 finishes) will require box-offs between the losing quarter-finalist to determine the final placings.
Athletes in the other six weights need to reach the quarter-finals or semi-finals (top 8 and top 4).
A total of 77 Olympic places – 50 for men and 27 for women – will be on the line at a tournament expected to match the quality and intensity of a European Elite Championships – with Olympic tickets thrown into the mix.