Toussaint ready to up her game after tough Commonwealth opener

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Teenage boxing sensation Sameenah Toussaint has admitted complacency almost cost her dearly after winning her opening fight at Birmingham 2022.

The 19-year-old Watford-born featherweight made her Commonwealth Games debut in the round of 16 against Welsh fighter Zoe Andrews at the NEC.

Her class appeared too much for her rival in the first round, which she claimed on all five judges’ scorecards, before Andrews responded impressively to win the second round 3-2.

Toussaint eventually did enough to win via a split decision, but while she was thrilled to advance to the quarter-finals, she identified lessons to be learned.

“I am delighted, very well. I knew it was close and I knew the second round was 3-2 the other way, so I knew I had to take a big turn at the end,” Toussaint said.

“I thought I was a little complacent in the second round, so for it to be a split decision was fair enough. I will get a lot out of a performance like that on this stage.

“There’s a lot at stake, it’s a Commonwealth Games and I came here to perform. I did the job. We’re both 19 but she’s in 2003 and I’m in 2002 so I’m a bit older.

“We’re both young so it’s crazy to be at this stage. We know each other because we’re Wales and England and we train together a bit so there’s no bad blood, she’s a nice girl.

This summer, the England team, supported by funds raised by National Lottery players, includes more than 400 athletes, all vying for a medal.

Toussaint was a ten-year-old cowering behind heavy bags when women’s boxing made its debut at the 2012 London Olympics, where Nicola Adams won her historic first gold medal.

She had been dragged kicking and screaming to the local gymnasium by her father to learn the art of defense, but after being initially bullied, Toussaint persisted and quickly found her feet.

A maiden junior title followed two years later at the age of 12 before watching all boxing at the final Commonwealth Games in 2018 as she considered her own bid for Birmingham.

And after overcoming the nerves of her first fight to set up a quarter-final with Australian Tina Rahimi, Toussaint insisted she had the ability to clinch a medal.

“Nerves got on my nerves a bit, but once I settled in it was fine,” she said. “I’m glad I knocked out the first fight and I’m here to go all the way, a medal would be great.”

At just 18, Toussaint’s opponent Andrews was also having her first taste of the Commonwealth Games and said she was still against it after gaining weight for the occasion.

“I knew it was going to be tough coming here at 54kg versus 57kg. I knew it was going to be even harder to box an Englishwoman at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham,” she said.

“Her reach impacted me tremendously. I’m usually the taller at my weight, but she was long and very good. She’s a good boxer and I think she could go far here.

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