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NATIONAL WELTERWEIGHT boxer Aaron Prince is beaming with confidence heading into the final 2016 Rio Olympic boxing qualifier in Azerbaijan next week, stating that super heavyweight Nigel Paul will not be Trinidad and Tobago’s only representative at the Olympics.

Prince (69 kilogrammes), along with junior welterweight Jean Paul Cooper (64 kg), lightweight Michael Alexander (60 kg), light heavyweight Andrew Fermin (81 kg) and flyweight Anthony Joseph (62 kg) will all leave TT on Monday for Baku, Azerbaijan where they will compete in the final boxing qualifying tournament.

Paul booked a spot in the Rio Olympics, after competing at the Americas Zone Olympic qualifying tournament in Argentina in March. He sealed qualification after advancing to the final of the Americas Zone tournament.

Prince, who returned from an intense training camp in Cuba alongside his compatriots on Wednesday night, was optimistic about his chances of qualifying. In a telephone interview Prince said, “I feel very confident going into the qualifiers. I am going to get one of the five spots. He (Paul) is not going alone.” Prince explained that five boxers in his division will qualify for the Olympics. Prince, who stated that Paul’s achievement gave him an extra drive to qualify for the Olympics, was satisfied with the two-week Cuban camp.

“In that camp we sparred with boxers from Latin America. Those boxers are the ones we would be facing in the qualifiers. We got to measure ourselves against the Latin American boxers.” The TT boxers did not only spar against Latin American boxers, as pugilists from Algeria and China were also in Cuba along with boxers from Brazil and Costa Rica.

The TT boxers have received a lot of support this year from former West Indies batsman Brian Lara who hosted numerous boxing events at his residence in Port-of- Spain called Tuesday Night Boxing at the Castle (TNBC). Reflecting on the experience at Lara’s castle Prince stated, “I am so thankful (for the experience at Lara’s castle), I am lost for words. I wish there was an event every Tuesday.” The welterweight boxer said the level of competition was high at TNBC as TT competed against boxers from St Lucia, Guyana, Bahamas and Dominican Republic, a country with a rich boxing history. However, Prince said more support is needed as Lara cannot do it by himself.

One of the TT coaches Reynold Cox said that the Cuba trip was beneficial to the team. Cox stated, “We can’t get that type of sparring in TT . They are now focused after getting that type of sparring in Cuba. It is a balanced team and they have been doing well. Hopefully they continue that form in Baku.” Cox also spoke about Paul’s plans for the coming weeks. “He (Paul) has been working at the elite centre (Hasely Crawford Stadium Gym) and doing strength work with his coach Floyd Trumpet. He has a final training camp in Miami with other heavyweights.”