CAITLIN Parker is still chuckling at the memory of her first fight.
The Safety Beach boxer, who’s been chosen to represent Australia at the now-2021 Tokyo Olympics, was aged 13 with two years’ ring experience when she fronted up to a 25-year-old opponent in a bout in Western Australia.
“I was always big for my age, but it must have been a shock for her to see how young I was,” she says, laughing. “I think I stopped growing at 13.”
Although there was no “winner” in that exhibition bout, Parker felt right at home and took to the sport with gusto.
She was no stranger to combat sports. “I’d already been right into taekwondo and earned a black belt and was eager to try something new,” she said. “I saw boxing as an interesting challenge and was eager to prove myself against the boys. I’m a very competitive person and train as hard as I can.”
The hard work has proven rewarding. Parker, 24, fights in the 69-75kg female middleweight class and has been on the Australian team since she was 15.
Coach Marcos Amado, of Peninsula Boxing, Mornington, is full of praise for his charge who he says is only the third Australian female boxer ever to qualify for an Olympic Games.
Parker has won seven Australian championships as well as winning a Bronze Medal in the 2011 Junior World Championships in Turkey; a Silver Medal in the 2014 Youth World Championships in Bulgaria; a Bronze medal in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in China, and a Silver medal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
In March she qualified for the Olympic Games through her performance at the world championships at Amman, Jordan.
“Her successes have made her the highest internationally ranked female amateur boxer in Australia,” Amado said.
Winning is not something the pair takes for granted. Parker and Amado train twice daily, often outdoors, after setting their Olympic goals back 12 months while they wait for the pandemic to pass.
“I love what I do and I am so thankful that I have a good coach,” Parker said.
The compliment is reciprocated by Amado who says Parker is “the best at what she does”.
Tokyo can’t come quickly enough.