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Nyika confirms commitment to Olympics

Newshub logoNewshub 26/03/2020 Brad Lewis

Kiwi Olympic medal prospect David Nyika has no plans to turn professional, despite uncertainty around the Tokyo Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) officially postponed the 2020 edition on Wednesday as the world's focus shifts to combating coronavirus.

Nyika, the reigning Commonwealth Games heavyweight champion, qualified for Tokyo earlier this month with a second-place finish at a pre-Olympic tournament in Jordan.

It marked what the 24-year-old had hoped was his road to redemption after missing selection for Rio in 2016.

But with the Tokyo Games now in limbo, without a confirmed date, Nyika could have turned his attention to the professional ranks,

Video: Joseph Parker dances in isolation lockdown © Image - Getty, Video - Twiter/Joseph Parker Video: Joseph Parker dances in isolation lockdown There is a trio of talented kiwis already established as top 30 heavyweights in Joseph Parker, Hemi Aho and Junior Fa, and Nyika would add serious amateur credentials, that far exceed those of his fellow New Zealanders.

But Nyika has dismissed any suggestion he would turn his back in the Olympics, especially after receiving the news on Thursday that his spot in Tokyo was guaranteed.

"I hadn't made the decision to turn professional after 2020 anyway," Nyika told Newshub.  

"I wanted to take a step back from boxing after Tokyo and have a look at where I wanted to go in life. I did the same thing in 2016. I had a bit of reboot and assessed what I wanted to do moving forward. 

"But my quota spot for the Olympics is confirmed, so they can't take that away from me, so I don't have to qualify again, which is really positive."

The two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist wasn't overly surprised by the IOC's decision to suspend the Summer Games, but it's still a major disappointment given all the hard work he and his team had put in just to qualify. 

"Everyone is obviously pretty disappointed and the uncertainty of everything is keeping everyone in suspense at the minute. 

"It does take a lot of the stress off [qualifying] - but even going into this year, the pinnacle event was really to qualify because you can't look beyond that.

"We were aiming to peek in February/March, so having to draw that out over a couple of years is really hard, so glad to knock that in the head and move forward."

Nyika came up agonisingly short in the Asia-Oceania tournament, losing a close final to Olympic silver medallist and tournament top seed Vassiliy Levit from Kazakhstan.

But Nyika is confident he can iron out a few defensive issues that emerged during the nine-minute fight, and hit Tokyo, whenever that is, in prime medal-winning condition.

"The errors I made in the final were very simple - they were technical mistakes at my end -  given that, I think I'm pretty happy with my performances and the ball is in my court heading to Tokyo.

I'm only 24, but I have been on the scene a lot longer than some of the competition, and you can't expect anything when it comes to fighting, but I'm gunning for Tokyo 2021." 

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