It was a bittersweet boxing finale for Qais Ashfaq this evening in Baku as the bantamweight won bronze after going 3-0 in his European Games semi-final.
Ashfaq, who was assured of a medal before the bout, will now hope his Belarussian victor Dzmitry Asanau triumphs in the final and secures the Leeds fighter a World Championship qualification spot as a result.
Ashfaq said: “I wasn’t feeling my best today. I tried to put that to one side and I thought it was a good fight. A close fight as well. I was a bit fatigued and not feeling too well so a fell a few times. On another day I could have beaten him.
“It was exactly what I expected but I wasn’t feeling myself today. Even warming up I wasn’t feeling myself but that’s part of the experience and I’ll come back stronger and by the time the Olympics comes round I’ll win that gold medal.
“I don’t want to make excuses and he won the bout on the day and that’s all that matters and I’ll get him another day. Maybe it’s the heat, maybe not but I just wasn’t feeling myself today and I think that showed in the performance.
“This is really my first major senior tournament apart from the Commonwealth Games. The more experience I’m getting the better I’ll become.
“A couple of things didn’t go my way this week but it’s good to have the experience and I’m getting experience all the time. I wasn’t very well this week and another day I probably would have beaten him.
“Three good performances this week and I’ll come back better and stronger. Hopefully he’ll win that gold and I’ll go to the World Championships – I wish him all the best.”