Langford lands 2019 Super Channel boxing nationals

Langford Mayor Stew Young added again to his burgeoning Olympic stable with the announcement that the 2019 Super Channel national boxing championships will be held on Bear Mountain.

All of Canada’s best male and female amateur boxers will be competing April 23-27 in what will be a key qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

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“We are 808 days away from the Tokyo Olympics. That’s like next week,” said Roy Halpin, executive director of Boxing Canada, during Tuesday’s announcement at the Westin Bear Mountain.

Boxing Canada is coming off a six-medal performance, with one silver and five bronze, last month at Gold Coast, Australia, in the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“Becoming national champion, or retaining your national title, in the year before the Olympics will be the first step [toward qualifying for Tokyo 2020],” said Halpin.

More than 250 boxers will engage in 240 bouts over five days on Bear Mountain.

“That’s a lot of Olympic [style] boxing,” said Halpin.

“Olympic boxing is family across the country, and that family will be together on Bear Mountain, where the grassroots will get to mix with the elites and vice versa. What brought us here is this venue, which has the wow factor, and Mayor Young’s energy and enthusiasm.”

The national championships will take place in the under-construction tennis pavilion atop Bear Mountain. There will be two rings set up in the 21,000 square-foot facility with 1,200 temporary seats.

“It will be the largest performance space [in terms of floor space] on the Island,” said Young.

Alexandra Strickland of Langford won silver in the women’s 60-kilo class at the 2015 nationals in Montreal before her dreams of the 2016 Rio Olympics fell just short. The proprietor of Knockout Fitness is considering a comeback on the road to Tokyo 2020 because the 2019 nationals will be right in her own backyard.

“I’m warming up to the idea,” said Strickland, a 27-year-old mother of one.

“I focused more on the business after the 2015 nationals, but I’m getting excited [about returning to competition] now that the 2019 nationals will be here. It’s going to be hard to say no.”

Super Channel, a national pay TV station, said details are being worked out and that it hopes to broadcast the championship finals bouts.

National teams based on Bear Mountain include those for Cycling Canada, Tennis Canada and Golf Canada with Rugby Canada down the road at Westhills Stadium. Young has dubbed the newly opened back road up to Bear Mountain the Olympic Corridor.

Rowing Canada, Triathlon Canada, Swimming Canada, Athletics Canada and Surfing Canada also have national training centres or head offices located in Greater Victoria.

“Centralization works,” said Halpin, noting Boxing Canada is centralized in Montreal.

“Eighteen of the [19] nations that won boxing medals at the Rio Olympics had centralized national teams.”

Young, only half jokingly, said even Boxing Canada would be welcome in Langford.

“Our partnerships are getting bigger and better. It’s something Langford is known for now,” he said, adding that watching Olympians train in their midst inspires the young people in his community to be active.

He added that Langford sport is vertically integrated and provides facilities for kids’ sports and people of all abilities.

“We get behind things here. One of the best things you can do for a community is provide recreation and entertainment,” said Young.

The 2018 Super Channel national boxing championships were held earlier this year in Edmonton. The last time B.C. hosted was in 2009 in Richmond. Before that, it was 2005 in Prince George, and 2000 in Campbell River, the latter which was the final qualifier for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Ticketing and other event details for the 2019 nationals on Bear Mountain will be announced over the fall and winter.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

Twitter.com/tc_vicsports

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