A solid performance by Russia's young women boxers leaves the country dominating both the AIBA Junior & Youth Women's World Boxing Championships in Antalya, Turkey, where the finals are slated for Saturday, April 30th.
Russia has six athletes in the finals of the Junior competition and five in the Youth competition, having started out with 13 junior boxers and ten youth boxers in the respective competitions. Host nation Turkey is hot on Russia's heels as a potential leader in the medals table for the Junior competition, having also qualified six boxers for the finals, but lags behind in the Youth field with only light welterweight Elif Kayan in action on Saturday.
India remains a force to be reckoned with, having qualified five boxers for the finals across both tournaments, and will be vying with Turkey for the medals in the lower weight categories of the Junior Championships as the two countries go head-to-head in the pinweight and flyweight finals.
India's triple Junior National Champion Lalenkawli will open the proceedings against Turkey's 2011 Junior National Champion Neriman Istik at pinweight and Turkey's double Junior National Champion Ulku Demir will take on Zareen Nikhat, India's 2010 Schoolgirl Champion, in the flyweight.
The youngest boxer in the Junior Championships, India's 2009 Junior National Champion Lalfakzvali, will be going for gold in the light bantamweight final against Vietnam's surprise package Thi Vy Vuong, who has won all three of her preliminary bouts inside the distance after graduating from AIBA's Road to Antalya training camp prior to the championships.
Vuong's team-mate Thi Phuong Pham - also a Road to Antalya graduate - has qualified for the finals in her light flyweight division and will take on Japan's only remaining representative in the competition, Kasumi Saeki.
New Zealand's Thea Awhitu is Oceania's sole representative in the finals of the competition. The 2009 New Zealand Junior Champion will face Turkey's double Junior National Champion Reyhan Cakir in the featherweight final.
The light welterweight final will be an all-European affair featuring Germany's Larissa Mischanin and Sweden's Hanna Lundblad, bronze medallist at the 2010 European Junior Championships.
Russia dominates the upper weight categories of the Junior competition with a presence in four of the remaining seven finals, where the team's boxers will face opposition from their neighbours such as Kazakhstan and Ukraine, well as host nation Turkey.
In the Youth competition, Russia will face tough competition from Sweden and China, who have both qualified four boxers for the finals.
Top favourite Svetlana Dmitrieva, the 2010 European Junior Champion, will start the action in the light flyweight contest against India's Sarjubala Shamjetsabam, who already has 34 bouts in her international career.
Vietnam's Thi Duyen Luu takes on China's Lili Niu in the bantamweight contests after becoming the third of four Vietnamese boxers in the competition to qualify for the finals as part of the country's superlative performance in Antalya.
The featherweight contest has the potential to be one of the highlights of the Youth finals, since it will be a re-match of the 2010 European Youth Championship final between England's Charley Davison on Germany's Ornella Wahner. Triple A Amateur Boxing Club boxer Davison took the European title last year with a close 2:0 victory against the experienced German.
Russia and Sweden will face-off three times in the Youth competition, with Patricia Berghult taking on Anastasia Belyakova in the lightweight final and favourite Love Holgersson facing Irina Tsarkova in the welterweight contest. Sona Hakhverdyan and Viktoriya Krylova will be the third Sweden-Russia match-up in the finals and will have the honour of closing out the competition in the heavyweight final.
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