Flint boxer Claressa Shields wins second U.S. Olympic Team Trials championship
FLINT, MI – Claressa Shields made history over the weekend as the first American female boxer to win two straight Olympic Trials titles.
She scored a 3-0 victory over her rival Tika Hemingway of Brackenridge, Pa., on Saturday at Memphis Cook Convention Center in Memphis, Tenn. The bout was a rematch of the 2012 finals before Shields went on to win a gold medal at the London Olympics.
“I landed the cleaner and harder shots through the whole fight so I knew it was unanimous,” Shields said. “I knew it wasn’t split even though I spent entirely too much time on the ropes, I feel. She had me on the ropes and she tried to land a few punches that weren’t clean, solid punches. It was more of trying to throw me around. She’s definitely bigger than me.”
Shields, 20, is just one step from qualifying for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team in Rio to defend her title in the 165-pound middleweight division.
She is vying to become the first U.S. boxer male or female to win two Olympic gold medals. The Flint boxer still must qualify internationally via a continental tournament in March or the World Championships in May to earn a spot in the 2016 Olympic Games, according to USA boxing.
“I can’t feel anything right now. I can’t believe I’m a two-time Olympian,” Shields said. “It’s just crazy to think about it. I haven’t been able to say that before. It’s definitely different. I feel like this time I was a little bit scared going in to the 2012 Olympics because I’d just had my first loss. This time I haven’t lost in three years and I feel like there’s nothing can’t stop this time around.”
Flint boxer Sardius Simmons also earned a spot in the Olympic Trials for men’s boxing with a top two finish in the final qualifying tournament on Saturday. Simmons fights in the 201-pound division and represents the FWC Berston Boxing Club.