Boxer Taylah Robertson has been guaranteed a bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games without facing an opponent.
As Australia’s youngest ever women’s boxing competitor, she’s also the first athlete guaranteed a medal at the Games in her home state.
The Sunshine Coast fighter is one of seven competitors entered in the 51kg women’s category and was handed a first round bye in a random draw.
It means she fights her first opponent in the semi-final on Friday, the winner of the bout between England and India, and will be handed a medal even if she loses.
In a quirk of the draw, all five of Australia’s women boxers were handed byes in the first round.
Hard work, then ‘luck of the draw’
The fighter is currently in camp with the Australian team, but said she was not satisfied with bronze.
“It’s nice to have a medal but I want gold,” Robertson said.
“With all the training I’ve done, I want to earn it. I’m not worried about who I meet in the semi-final, I’m ready.”
Robertson’s coach Mark Evans told the Sunshine Coast Daily his charge had simply got the “luck of the draw” in a field where there were not many competitors entered.
Evans said Robertson had to work hard just to get into the Australian team.
“I reminded her that at the Commonwealth Games selection trials in November last year she fought four times in three days to win through to the final so she’s already done her hard yards,” Evans said.
“She’s proved she should be there, she beat the country’s best 51kg girls and beat them convincingly.”
No bronze medal fight
Two bronze medals have been awarded for each weight division in boxing since the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, when they abolished the bronze medal fight.
Third and fourth deciders were removed from the Empire Games (now the Commonwealth Games) in Cardiff 1958.
Women’s boxing has only been a part of major competitions since London 2012, with it first entering the Commonwealth competition in Glasgow in 2014.
Boxing in major competitions is held to a tight schedule, with competitions won by either knock-out or points.
For safety reasons, fighters are not permitted to box or spar for 30 days after receiving heavy blows to the head, even if they don’t lose consciousness.
This increases to 90 days for a boxer knocked unconscious for less than a minute, while a boxer who is knocked out for more than a minute is not permitted to spar again for 180 days.
It would be unfeasible to have these delays at a Commonwealth or Olympic Games.
Not without precedent
This is not the first time a boxer has been guaranteed a medal without even facing an opponent.
During a widespread boycott of the Edinburgh 1986 Games by African nations, Welshman Aneurin Evans was guaranteed a silver medal after drawing a bye in a field with only three competitors.
Evans draw a first round bye but was comfortably beaten by then future world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, representing Canada, in the final.