PERHAPS the judges could have been kinder, perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, she might have chosen to alter her style? Maybe the enormity of a home Games was just much too much to handle? Either way, Savannah Marshall will not be adding an Olympic title to the World Championship she won earlier this year.
The Hartlepool fighter suffered a 16-12 defeat in a scrappy contest with Kazakhstan’s Marina Volnova in the Excel Arena yesterday afternoon and immediately saw her Olympic dreams turn to dust.
Billed as one of Great Britain’s strongest gold medal hopes following her eye-catching victory at May’s Women’s World Championships in China, she was unable to scale the heights she had achieved just three months earlier.
There is no disgrace in that of course, and at the age of just 21, Marshall will live to fight again. The next Olympics in Rio should be well within her reach.
But there will still be intense disappointment, particularly at the tame manner of her defeat to Volnova, a fighter who only made the quarterfinals at the worlds.
“I’m really disappointed to have come out of the Olympics at the very first hurdle,”
said Marshall. “I’ve trained really hard and all the preparation was right. I just didn’t box to my full potential this afternoon. I have to credit my opponent from Kazakhstan, who made it very difficult for me to fight my normal fight.”
Having received a bye to the quarter-finals because of her status as world champion, Marshall went into yesterday’s fight in the strange position of knowing that a win in her opening contest would guarantee her a medal.
In hindsight, maybe a week of inactivity was not the best thing for her because she appeared nervous as she walked towards the ring and her opening flurries were unexpectedly ineffective.
She was rocked in the opening seconds by a well-judged left from Volnova, and while she finished the opening two minutes at 4-4, there was no authority to her work.
Normally, the tall, rangy Marshall uses her reach advantage to prevent her opponents working inside her, but her jab missed more than it hit and Volnova was able to turn the bout into a scrap rather than the technical contest her opponent would surely have preferred.
The second round came and went largely without incident, with the scores still locked at 7-7 at the halfway stage, but round three was the turning point with Volnova working inside Marshall to gain a 10-8 advantage.
The final round was a particularly messy affair, with Volnova constantly holding in an attempt to prevent Marshall landing a telling blow.
The ploy should perhaps have resulted in her being docked two points, but given that she eventually finished with a four-point advantage, a deduction would still have been an irrelevance.
There were boos at the announcement of the scorecard, reflecting a generally-held view that Marshall should not have been beaten 16-12, but even with a British and North- Eastern hat on, it was hard to claim the result was wrong.
“I’ve got no excuses, and all I can do is say sorry to all the coaches and support staff who have done everything they can to get me here,” said Marshall.
Her biggest challenge now will be to lift herself for the remainder of her career, but she is not someone who fights for praise or plaudits and she could still go on to achieve even greater things than her maiden world title.
She will not be leaving London with a medal though, and must learn from the experience of failing to deliver on the biggest stage of all.
Her departure followed that of Natasha Jonas, who was caught up in the whirlwind that is Ireland’s four-time champion Katie Taylor.
As a result, Britain only has one female boxer left in the shape of Leeds’ Nicola Adams, who secured a convincing 16-7 victory over Bulgaria’s Stoyka Petrova.
Adams is guaranteed a medal, although her semifinal task could hardly be stiffer as she must take on talented Indian Mary Kom, who has been one of the biggest successes of London’s women’s boxing programme so far.
Kom, a five-time world champion, is a darling of Indian sport, and Adams will have to step up on yesterday’s display to beat her.
She is capable of doing that, although she now has to handle the added pressure of being the only survivor of what was touted as an exceptionally strong women’s boxing team.