WARRNAMBOOL boxers Bianca Slater and Luci Hand went to the national championships to gain invaluable experience against Australia’s best.
They came away with silver medals.
The Victorian representatives celebrated their national championship debuts with gold medal fights in Perth on Friday.
Slater, 28, cemented her spot in the 57-kilogram final after winning her two preliminary fights. She lost the decider to Queensland’s Emma Carruthers in a split-decision result.
Slater, in just her second year of competition, said her more experienced opponent had the edge early.
“The first two rounds probably went to her,” she said.
“I probably came back really strong in the third and fourth rounds.
“She was southpaw, a left-hander. I didn’t have experience fighting a southpaw. She put me to the canvas in the first round and in the second round I got another eight count, but that’s when I realised I had to do something different.
“As each round went on I worked her out more.”
Slater said fighting at a national level was an eye-opener.
“It was a great experience and I can’t wait to do it all again,” she said. “It (the medal) is a bit of a shock just because I haven’t been competing for that long and I realise now I can compete at that level. It was my 14th fight in the final and the girl I was fighting has been fighting for 13 years — a seasoned campaigner.”
Hand, 24, won her preliminary fight unanimously to book her spot in the gold medal fight.
She lost on a TKO after she fell to the canvas in the last 30 seconds of the four-round battle against fellow Victorian Chloe Salmon in the 54-kilogram class.
The referee called the fight off, despite Hand returning to her feet.
Hand said she was disappointed with the referee’s ruling but understood her decision.
“She had to do what she felt comfortable with,” she said.
“The refs are there to do a job as well, you can’t put them down.” Hand said she was elated to walk away with a medal from her first national championships tilt. “I went over to work out how it worked and I was happy with how I performed,” she said.
“Technically I have to have 30 days off fighting now (because of the TKO) but I am not disappointed I got silver at all. I am over the moon. People go there for years and years and get knocked out in the first round.”
Hand said she was grateful for the experience and support and was eager to push for another medal next year.
Both boxers train under Warrnambool coach Rodney Ryan.