Countdown is on for Selby’s date with Olympic destiny
Gary Baker on 26/03/2012
Andrew Selby is relentlessly punishing his body in preparation for the fight of his life (Photo by Steve Pope).
That moment will come in the London Olympic Games ring on July 30 when the 23-year-old from Barry enters for his first round clash.
Months of blood and sweat - and miles on the road - are getting Selby ready for a week in which he could catapult himself into the national sporting stratosphere as other Olympic boxing successes like Amir Khan and Audley Harrison have in the past.
He travels back and forth between Cardiff's Splott Adventure Boxing Club, the former canteen of Moorland Primary School in the capital city's suburbs, and the far more hi-tech world of Great Britain's team gym in Sheffield, with its' state-of-the-art equipment.
It was obvious that Selby would become a boxer from a young age, taking up the art at the age of seven. His brother Lee is a professional and the reigning British and Commonwealth featherweight champion, while their father, also called Lee, was a pugilist himself.
Andrew fought his way to the top, proving that determination and the 'never give up' attitude brings with it glory.
This was never proved more than when he fought at three European Championships at the back end of the Noughties. Selby was twice a bronze medallist in 2008 and 2010 but went onto win the gold last year and reach the World Championships final.
Selby was selected for the Olympics last year when he was involved in a best-of-three box-off with England's Khalid Yafai. He won the first bout convincingly before Khalid pulled out of the second, scheduled to be fought at the British Championships, because he could not make the weight.
Now a gold medal in London this summer would set him on the road to a professional career that, he hopes, will bring fame and fortune, even though, at the moment, he does not like the 'celebrity' status that comes with it.
Back at Splott Adventure ABC and under the guidance of long-term coach James Mwasigallah - Maz - Selby said: "I'd love to say I will be on the podium in the Olympics but I don't want to be over-confident. That's when you mess up. I think I'm good enough to win the whole thing but it is on the day.
"Because I'm European champion and number two in the world, I believe in myself and that I can beat anyone.
"I would like to go professional but I'd have to speak to my trainers and see what they want me to do.
"You can turn pro whenever you like but, if you get a medal in the Olympics, that's when you become famous. A lot of people want to see you then and you get lots of publicity on television."
But he is shy about the attention, although he realises it will only increase considerably the nearer he gets to a medal and reach fever pitch if he wins one and enters the new world of a high-profile professionalism.
"It is a bit pressurised now but I just don't like being on TV with the cameras.
"I don't like it but it's best to have it. That's the only way that people get to know you.
"I'd like to follow in my brother's footsteps and win the British and Commonwealth titles and then go onto European and world level.
"I think I'd be a better pro than an amateur. Pro boxers don't throw as many punches and that is what I like to do so I can have the advantage there."
However, professional boxing is for the future. The most immediate priority is to do well in London and, with a punishing training regime both in Sheffield and Cardiff that would make many other sportsmen wince, Selby is giving himself every chance to achieve his Olympic dreams and then step even further beyond them in the paid ranks.
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