Caitlin Parker is confident of adding to Australian boxing’s feelgood factor when she heads to the Youth Olympics in China next week.
The sport provided some unexpected booty at the recent Commonwealth Games, with Australian fighters collecting two golds and a silver.
Parker worked with a lot of the squad in Canberra in the build-up to Glasgow, including 60kg winner Shelly Watts. Now the 18-year-old West Australian middleweight (75kg) is ready to strike gold herself.
“I trained with the team for about three weeks at the AIS before they left and trained a lot with those girls. I’m very happy for Shelly,” Parker said. “Now it’s my turn.”
Parker, who trains at the Fox’s Boxing Den in Gosnells, is one of only two Australian boxers who have qualified for Nanjing.
“You have to be in the world top six to get in the Youth Olympics and I’m No.2,” she said.
“Of the girls who are boxing in China, I’ve beaten two of them and lost to one.
“The girl I lost to in the final of the youth worlds (Poland’s Elzbieta Wojcik), she will be my biggest competition. She even fought the London Olympic gold medal winner last year and lost only by split decision. But I know what I need to improve on and I know I can beat her.”
Parker, whose ultimate goal is the 2016 Rio Olympics, has already had what she describes as “an awesome year”. She won gold at both the Brandenburg Cup in Germany and Golden Gloves tournament in Serbia, as well as that silver at the youth world championships in Bulgaria.
Parker, who says her main asset is “a strong right hand”, took up the sport seven years ago to get fit. She used to play rugby union and, thanks to her Kiwi mum and dad, is still a mad All Blacks fan.
She flies to Sydney on Monday before heading to China on Wednesday. But before that she will help work the corner of her younger brother Billy, who boxes at the Fremantle Italian Club tonight.
“That should be fun ... he’d better listen to his sister,” she said.