World champion Lauren Price is among 12 elite boxers who will return to training in Sheffield next week as the sport becomes the latest to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.
Members of the GB boxing squad have been in lockdown since the abandonment of the Olympic qualifying tournament in London in March when the scale of the health crisis became apparent.
Returning boxers, who will be accompanied by four coaches and sport science staff, will be required to socially distance at all times and will not yet be able to engage in sparring or pad sessions.
It is envisaged that full contact training could resume within as little as two weeks, provided stage two of the process, as dictated by the Government’s guidance on the return of elite sport, has been achieved.
Price, who has endured lockdown in a house in Sheffield with another squad member, Karriss Artingstall, said: “I am looking forward to going into camp and getting back into a routine of training three times a day.
“The GB Boxing coaches and staff have been in touch with us throughout lockdown and have prepared us for the fact that returning to the gym will not be the same as usual.
“They have put loads of work into this and I do not have any concerns about going back. I am looking forward to it.”
As part of the process, boxers will be subject to strict schedules and will be screened and questioned upon arrival at the gym at the English Institute of Sport.
The qualifying process for Tokyo is not expected to resume until early next year, but there is a desire to expedite the process of bringing boxers back to full training as soon as conditions allow.
Also among those to return in the first wave are super-heavyweight Frazer Clarke, who has been training in his garage in Burton, and flyweight Galal Yafai, who has had limited access to facilities at his flat in Solihull.
All GB boxers have been working to individual home training programmes supervised by performance director Rob McCracken, who has worked closely on the return to training with GB Boxing chief executive Matt Holt.
Holt said: “In May, the Government published its stage one return to training guidelines for elite sports and we have been working through this to a point where we are now able to allow a limited number of boxers and coaches to come back into the GB Boxing gym under strict social distancing guidelines.
“This has been a big piece of work and we have put a series of measures in place in a number of areas covering hygiene throughout the training and living environment, the provision of medical support, screening and monitoring, a reconfiguring of the boxing gym and the design and content of the boxers’ training programme and how it will be delivered.
“We have also spent a lot of time talking to the boxers to provide them with guidance on this new way of operating and ensuring they are comfortable with it and aware of their responsibilities in terms of hygiene and social distancing in the gym, in their accommodation and when travelling to and from training.
“We will debrief and review activities at the end of each training camp. Provided things progress successfully we will start to look at how we can move on to stage two of the Government’s return to training guidance which allows for contact and would enable the boxers to step-up their training by reintroducing sparring and pad work with the coaches.”