BOXERS on Great Britain’s Olympic programme will begin contact training next week as GB Boxing progresses to stage two of the return to training process detailed in the Government’s Elite Sport Return to Training Guidance.
It means the boxers will be able to part in technical and open sparring sessions with each other and do pads with the GB Boxing coaches provided strict protocols are followed.
Sparring will be confined to designated groups of boxers and pads sessions can only take place if the coaches are in personal protective equipment (PPE) and the boxers wear a face mask.
Medical consultations and interactions with support staff will be socially distanced and individual coaches will only work with designated groups of boxers to minimise the level of interaction at close quarters.
The boxers will continue to undergo a rigorous screening programme including daily temperature checks at home and before entering the training areas and completing a daily wellness questionnaire.
The training camp, which will run from Monday to Thursday next week (22 – 25 June 2020) is the third week back in the GB Boxing gym after GB Boxing returned to training on 8 June, initially under strict social distancing guidelines.
More coaches and support staff will be in the gym next week to support the increased numbers of boxers and means physiotherapy and medical staff will be present at every sparring session as the introduction of contact will increase the possibility of injuries.
The easing of the rules on social distancing means the number of boxers taking part in the camp will increase from 12 to 17.
The boxers will follow a programme of three training sessions per day including morning runs, strength and conditioning work in the gym and boxing sessions in the afternoon.
The progression to stage two has been approved by the board of GB Boxing and is being overseen by Chief Executive, Matt Holt, in tandem with Performance Director, Rob McCracken.
Holt explained: “At the end of both of the first two weeks of the initial return to training we consulted widely with the boxers coaches and staff and the response was universally positive.
“We looked at a wide number of factors including the make-up of training, the provision of medical support, social distancing and the safety of the boxers and coaches in the venue and the accommodation and the feedback, across the board, was that things were working well. This gave the board the confidence to progress to stage two of the Government guidance and re-introduce contact training.”
McCracken added: “The boxers, coaches and support staff have all adapted very well and this has enabled us to move things up a level. It means we can get training back to something approaching normal, which all the boxers are keen to do, yet continue to ensure we keep things as safe as possible.
“I am certain the boxers will continue to follow the guidance we are providing and take on-board the extra precautions we have put in place about how they conduct themselves in the training environment and in their accommodation.
“The group are very focused on the fact the Olympics is just over 12 months away and are extremely keen to return to something resembling normal training and get themselves in the best possible shape to start competing again soon.”
As well as the screening measures and temperature checks, all of the boxers have been provided with detailed guidance on the new way of operating to ensure they are comfortable with it and aware of their obligations in terms of hygiene and continuing to practice social distancing, particularly in their accommodation and when travelling to and from training.
One of the boxers returning to the gym for the first time as part of next week’s training camp is heavyweight, Cheavon Clarke, who has been training at home in Kent since the lockdown was introduced in March 2020.
His recent training regime has included Zoom training sessions with the GB Boxing coaches and bike rides in the Kent countryside, with former squad mate and Rio 2016 bronze medallist, Joshua Buatsi.
Clarke said: “Josh and I have been doing some long bike rides which have been an enjoyable way of staying in shape, particularly as the weather has been sunny. It has been good to have some variety in my training however I am now looking forward to getting back in the GB Boxing gym and seeing the coaches and the rest of the boxers.
“There are quite a lot of restrictions and it will be different to what we have been used to, but we just have to get on with it. It’s a step in the right direction.”