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Ren lashing out for gold

(China Daily)

09:19, July 06, 2012

China's female boxers are ready to fight for a share of gold at the event's Olympic debut in London.

Boasting reigning flyweight (51kg) amateur world champion Ren Cancan, China expects to grab at least one gold medal out of the three categories at the London Games, where women's boxing joins the Olympic program for the first time.

The 24-year-old Ren became the first Chinese to win three world titles in a row after beating British boxer Nicola Adams in the 51kg final in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, in May.

She's aiming for nothing short of gold in London.

"This (a third world championship) gives me a great confidence boost," Ren said. "The next big thing is the Olympics, and a gold medal will be my only target."

Facing threats from Adams and India's five-time world champion Mary Kom, Ren will have to dig deep, said Chang Jianping, chief of the Chinese Boxing Association (CBA).

"Other countries have developed very fast on the women's side as everybody eyes the three added golds," Chang said at a recent media briefing. "Ren remains the favorite, but she has seen the gap narrowing a lot. She will still have to improve her skills and footwork to edge out the others."

Two 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games champions, Dong Cheng and Li Jinzi, will seek podium finishes in the lightweight (60kg) and middleweight (75kg) categories, respectively.

Dong failed to make the final eight at the World Championships after losing to Russia's title hope, Sofya Ochigav, but will still enter the field of 36 with a wild card.

Li, 22, will be another of China's top gold contenders. The Associated Press named her among the top three fighters in her class.

Still, Li's chances aren't as good as Ren's. She will face a more daunting line-up of challengers, including British world champion Savannah Marshall, budding US star Claressa Shields and Elena Vystropova of Azerbaijan.

In the men's field, Beijing Olympics light flyweight (49kg) gold medalist Zou Shiming is aiming to defend his title, while super heavyweight Zhang Zhilei hopes to upgrade his silver medal from Beijing to a gold in London.

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