Regan Buckley’s European Games exploits have inspired him to move forward his Olympic ambitions by four years.
After returning to the amateur ranks last year eyebrows where raised when ‘Rego’ entered the National Elite Championships at light flyweight.
Most anticipated he would enter at flyweight due to the fact it gave passage to Tokyo 2020.
However, the St Teresa’s man explained he wanted to claim a National crown and gain International experience representing Ireland at the European Games as well as the World and European Championships.
Considering the latter two of those tournaments initially looked likely to be Olympic qualifiers and with Buckley looking to enter at a non Olympic weight Toyko was initially off the agenda.
Circumstances have now changed as the IOC have taken control from the AIBA and tickets to Tokyo will now be battled for in two IOC Spring tournaments.
That gives time for ‘The Rocket’ to stake his claim as Ireland’s best 52kg option, a position currently held by Brendan Irvine if European Games selection was anything to go by – the Rio Olympian was picked to represent Ireland in Minsk ahead of champion Adam Hession but was forced out through injury – and that is exactly what he plans to do.
“I’m going to move up, I’m going to start that process as soon as possible. I’ll be well able for it,” the Bray fighter told Sun Sport.
“This tournament was a stepping stone, my dream is to go to the Tokyo Olympics and I’ll be very confident going into the qualifiers next year, please God.”
It’s not just circumstances that have changed for Buckley, it seems his confidence levels have risen too.
Considering one of his issues with the pro game was the journey man element, the Wicklow fighter wanted constant tests it’s surprising to hear he needed world level affirmation.
However, having secured bronze at the European Games he is more assured of his ability to perform at the highest amateur stage.
“I was going over for the experience, my first major international competition. I was going over to see where I was on the international scene. It was a step into the unknown. I was coming up against world-class boxers so I knew it was going to be hard.
“I had faith in myself but you never truly know until you are there doing it. It turned out well, now I know I’m well able for it.
“The very first fight was against the reigning champion but I had faith in myself and went out and put in a good performance. From then, my confidence sky-rocketed and I knew I was well able for that level and it went from there.”