George Bates has what it takes, that’s view of his club coach Noel Burke.
The unassuming Bates has come from left field to moving within two wins of becoming an Olympian.
The St Mary’s fighter was chosen to represent Ireland at 63kgs in the European Olympic qualifiers and registered a victory before the tournament was postponed.
The Tallaght fighter is now just two wins away from securing a place on the plan to Tokyo 2021.
However, blocking that path is Azerbaijan’s Javid Chalabiyev. To move to within nine minutes of the Olympics Bates will have to follow his win over Leon Dominguez of Spain by defeating a former World champion.
Head Coach at St Marys, Burke insists, Bates is a form fighter and can get the job done.
“He [Chalabivev] is a former World champion, but looking at him now and looking at the level that George is at now, I can’t see anyone stopping George,” said Burke when speaking to the Tallaght Echo.
“He’s beaten World champions and Olympic silver medallists before and he’s still been improving over the past year and a half. He went to London looking not just to qualify but to actually win the tournament,” he adds before explaining why the National Elite champion has improved so much.
“Since he got his qualification as an electrician he’s been able to train full-time, firstly in the club and now out in Abbottstown where he has that wrap-around support with physios and nutritional advice.”
Bates isn’t the only Mary’s fighter gunning for Olympic qualification. World Championship gold medal winner Kellie Harrington is favoured not only to reach Tokyo but to perform there.
“Kellie has been constantly improving” continues Burke. “She’s an absolute professional, so disciplined.
“She never misses training, she never under-achieves in training so she’s at a very good level right now”.