FOR Cheavon Clarke there will just be one opportunity to qualify for the Olympics Games. In the previous cycle there were several qualification events. But now with the World qualifier cancelled, to be replaced by a ranking system, Clarke in effect will have one chance at the European qualification event in Paris in June to win a place at the Tokyo Olympics.
“Previously they had four chances to qualify, last year it was two, now it’s one. Surely anybody that gets a medal – normally you’re an Olympic legend – surely you’ve got to be a legend legend. It’s not for the weak. I just think you will see that the best of the best come through. It comes back to the basics of life. Survival of the fittest really. Go out there and manoeuvre the best you can and do what you have to do to qualify,” Clarke reflected. “I’m confident in my ability and everybody’s beatable, I’ll just go out there and show what Cheavon Clarke can do for those who don’t know.”
Clarke is part of a strong, determined GB squad. “Nobody wants to be left behind, everybody wants to be that top athlete. So we always push each other, obviously we train with each other so you’re always looking and picking up from each other and supporting each other as well. I think it’s really good and I think that’s why we are so good. We’re all so different but we work so hard. We work so hard as a group and as individuals, whether it be at home or here. The work is still going in and everybody expects to do well. There’s nobody here that doesn’t expect to do well. That’s the mentality that we have in camp,” Cheavon said.
After a more than a year out of action, due to the pandemic, Clarke has been able to box at two tournaments in recent months. He didn’t win them but these contests have been important to shake off his rustiness. “Just the process of competition. The flying out there, being in the same hotel as your opponent and the process of fight day. Just the preparation process, it was so important because it becomes alien, in a weird way, you haven’t done something for so long,” he explains. “What happened, happened. We’re ready to go again.”
Clarke took advantage of the time out of boxing to educate himself and support wider causes. “Educating myself on financial literacy. I thought to myself if young kids or kids that are leaving school knew about this. Imagine if you were aware of certain things leaving school, I’m sure you would at least be aware of positions you can put yourself in. Learning about using credit cards, the fact that you can invest into the stock market or if you saved up the money that you worked for from 16 to 25 you’d possibly have the deposit for a house. Just awareness of financial literacy for kids going into adulthood,” Cheavon said. “There’s so much potential out there… You have kids that go off and do their business adventures, let’s say, it may not be the correct adventure but if you look at it from a pure business perspective there’s an entrepreneur in there. It’s giving them that information so rather than go that way, if you do it this way you’ll be getting legal money and you won’t have to be looking over your shoulder.”
He is keeping himself focused on Tokyo, just as he did when the Games were postponed last year, being consistent in his training and his approach. “I have a goal. So along the way you expect ups and downs. But the main thing is the goal,” Cheavon said. “It’s not the down that you worry about, you expect to be down at some point. It’s keeping that goal in mind that once you deal with the down you’ll bounce back and be alright. For me it was just a thing of nobody has told me that the Olympics is not happening, they’ve just said it’s postponed. So the goal is still there and it’s just consistently work towards it. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when you think, this was meant to be my time, why is it taking so long?”
“I’m an amateur, I’m focused on the Olympics,” he adds. “Anybody can be a professional. How many can say they’ve been to the Olympics, much less to then medal at the Olympics? Or get a gold medal at the Olympics? Very few people. Just focus on your craft and it’ll all come right for you. In my head I’ve always been going to the Olympics.”