Euro victory is watershed for Pond

Portsmouth Stacey's Team GB ace Ashleigh Pond
Portsmouth Stacey's Team GB ace Ashleigh Pond
Heart of Portsmouth Boxing Academy's Ivy-Jane Smith

Heart of Portsmouth ace aiming to become world champion

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Ashleigh Pond underlined her Olympic credentials as she stormed to European victory.

Portsmouth Stacey’s exciting heavy-hitter stepped on to the international stage for the first time with Team GB at the International Silesian Women’s Championships.

And the 16-year-old showed why she is being touted as a hopeful for the Rio Games as she delivered an explosive success.

Pond overcame two opponents from the host nation when she travelled to Poland for the tournament.

First up was Justyna Gornik, who she defeated on points over four rounds at 51kg.

That set Pond up for a final showdown with the dangerous Pole Magdalena Twarog for the gold medal.

And the Yinka Bello-trained ace rose to the occasion superbly to take the title.

Pond performed brilliantly on the back foot and scored at will with the rear hand to be crowned champion.

The win showed what talent the Stacey boxer possesses and underlined why her coach believes she has Olympic potential.

Bello feels the gold medal can now be a watershed moment for Pond.

He said: ‘We are all very proud of what Ashleigh has achieved and, more importantly, how she has applied herself.

‘As soon as we were informed of the tournament, she began to focus all her energy on delivering success on her debut outing with Great Britain.

‘This win is what Ashleigh needs to reinforce and underline the potential she possesses. She has a big future and couldn’t have impressed more.

‘Now she has made her mark on the world stage and I believe she is developing into a future Olympian.’

Pond has had to wait for her moment to step into action in GB colours after making it on to their development squad.

The sport’s bosses at international level quickly identified her as a talent who can go on to achieve great things in the amateur ranks.

Pond has now been travelling to the home of GB boxing at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield for 16 months as a fully-funded squad member.

On top of that she has been receiving tutelage from six-time ABA champion Chris Bessey MBE.

That has made a huge impact on her boxing skills as top-level expertise is passed on to the talent.

Now Bello believes she is adding the mental strength to her boxing needed to succeed at the very highest level.

He said: ‘We have worked hard over the summer on strength, conditioning, roadwork and sparring with Ashleigh.

‘We have had a programme to work to from GB, plus we have also had huge help from Chris Bessey, who is affiliated to Portsmouth Stacey and is on hand to work with Ashleigh and other boxers.

‘She has been waiting patiently for this chance for a long time.

‘But she has taken it with both hands.

‘At the top level it’s as much about mental strength as physical strength. I believe Ashleigh is now realising that.’