Australian boxing fans were left reeling this week after their biggest medal hopefuls in 24 years fell at the final hurdle at London 2012.
Two of Australian boxing’s biggest names are already out after Naomi-Lee Fischer-Rasmussen and Jeff Horn both lost before reaching the semi-finals.
Without a medal since Graham Cheney’s lightweight silver in Seoul 1988, punters placed plenty of online bets backing Horn, a nippy light welterweight who has the talent to dominate his division in years to come, to come away with a place on the podium.
After defeating Zambia’s Gilbert Choombe and Abderrazak Houya of Tunisia, the 24-year-old came into London’s ExCel Arena knowing the weight of a nation was on his shoulders.
But up against Ukrainian favourite Denys Berinchyk, Horn confronted a challenge far superior to those set in the early bouts. Horn did well to physically impose himself upon Berinchyk but couldn’t bring his opponent into a proper scrap as the Ukrainian boxed his way to a 5-3 lead after the first bell.
Things went from bad to worse for the Brisbane fighter with the gap at 12-7 by the end of the second and, although he battled bravely in the third round there was nothing stopping last year’s World Championship silver medallist from coming through 21-13. It was a surprisingly heavy defeat that even line betting enthusiasts hadn’t predicted, but one in keeping with a difficult Olympic games for Australia up to this point.
Also 24 years old, Berinchyk has set the level that Horn must aspire to, while Fischer-Rasmussen was served the same treatment in the last 16 of the women’s middleweight, losing out to Sweden’s Laurell Anna 24-17.
Australian boxing will sit down after these Olympics and go through what went right and what went wrong, but it seems we will have to wait another four years before medal hopes can surface once more on the horizon.