Monday, August 06, 2012
Arab Spring knocks out Tunisian's hopes
By Patrick Johnston
LONDON (Reuters) - Tunisian fighter Rim Jouini fought through barriers and prejudice to get women's boxing into the Olympics only for the Arab Spring uprising to derail her hopes of a gold medal.
The 31-year-old lightweight fell to a 15-10 defeat by New Zealander Alexis Pritchard on Sunday in one of 12 bouts that brought an end to the last all-male sport at the Games.
After the long wait to compete at an Olympics, a first round loss was bitterly disappointing for the Tunsian, who blamed the lost training time when Tunisia became the birthplace of the Arab Spring revolts at the end of 2010.
As her future competitors in London geared all their pad work and sparring to competing at the Olympics, Jouini could do nothing as waves of protests engulfed her country.
"It was very hard," Jouini told reporters through a translator. "I stopped for five months. The preparation was a very short period and all these boxers prepared longer. Thank God the country is now stable and next time I will hopefully be in Rio (at the 2016 Games) with far more practice.
"I'm proud to represent my country and I would have liked to have won and to make all the Tunisian people proud of me and happy but unfortunately I wasn't successful. Hopefully Maroua will do it."
Maroua Rahali is Tunisia's other women's boxing hope at the Olympics and she will step into the ring on Monday against five times world champion Mary Kom of India in the flyweights.
Jouini said the support for the duo back home had been encouraging, but only after she won bronze at the 2010 world championships.
"In the beginning I had a few problems as it was considered a man's sport in Tunisia. But I won the bronze medal and women have got a place in Tunisia and they are supporting women," she said.