French boxer Estelle Mossely enjoyed a 24th birthday to remember at Rio 2016, winning the Olympic lightweight title to give her country a maiden women’s boxing gold.
Having started her day by watching boyfriend Tony Yoka reach the men’s super-heavyweight final, Mossely beat China’s Yin Junhua on a split decision after the four rounds had ended with the two boxers level on the three judges’ scorecards. Losing semi-finalists Mira Potkonen of Finland and Anastasia Beliakova of Russia took the bronze medals.
As Yoka watched from the stands, the two fighters made a cagey start, with Mossely ending the first round trailing her Chinese opponent 10-9 10-9 10-9. The French boxer began to turn the tide when she rocked Yin at the end of the second with a fierce right, catapulting the Chinese back towards her own corner.
Mossely was again on the attack at the end of the third, with a left-right-left combination stunning Yin. The Frenchwoman came out in determined mood at the start of the fourth and final round, and did just enough to get the decisive vote, securing France its first gold in the ring since Brahim Asloum won the light-flyweight title at Sydney 2000.
Describing how she bounced back after a faltering start to the final, Mossely said: “I didn’t expect to lose the first round and second round but it happens. I spoke to my coach and he said, ‘You’ve trained hard for this. You’re setting a good pace. You have good cardio’, and he urged me on. So from there it was just all instinct, trying to give more and more and more. And it worked.
“It makes me feel complete,” she said of her gold medal. “I had a lot of work to do: I’ve had to work with my coaches and my teams to get to this level. I’ve had to study a lot to really understand what I needed to do to become the best, and I’m really happy to have made it.”
Reacting to her silver, Yin had this to say: “I dreamed a lot about the gold medal and I’m very disappointed that I didn’t get it at the end. I want to say a big thanks to my coach. He worked very hard with me and did a lot for me.”
“It’s always very pleasant to have an Olympic medal around your neck, but of course I came here for a medal of a different colour,” said Beliakova after walking away with bronze. “Unfortunately what happened has happened, but I’m very happy to have an Olympic medal.”