Gavin wishes team-mates well

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The Independent Online

Frankie Gavin has urged Great Britain's boxing squad to make up for his crushing personal disappointment at missing out on the Olympics by bringing a clutch of medals back from Beijing.

No sooner had Gavin touched down in England than he was on the telephone to his best friend, light-heavyweight Tony Jeffries, to tell his team-mates to do themselves proud.

It was a touching gesture from Gavin and a great boost for the British team who could use all the inspiration they can get after being handed a nightmare competition draw today.

Head coach Terry Edwards said: "Frankie was on the phone to wish all the boys the best of luck and to tell them despite his disappointment he will be cheering them on on the television.

"It's going to be painful for Frankie but he's been a part of the team for a long time now and he's still a part of it. I wouldn't expect anything less of Frankie to support the team even though he's on the other side of the world.

"Frankie will undoubtedly be a motivating factor. I have told the lads they have got to concentrate on their own Games now, but they told me to a man they are now even more determined to do it for Frankie."

If Edwards thought things could hardly get much worse after Gavin's late pull-out after failing to make the weight for the lightweight division he was mistaken, with the draw at the Beijing Asia hotel throwing up a series of tough draws for the remaining team members.

Super-heavyweight and team captain David Price drew the shortest straw as he must open against Russia's European champion and world number one Islam Timurziev.

Middleweight James Degale will begin the British campaign on Saturday afternoon against Egypt's Mohamed Hikal, in the knowledge he will probably have to overcome Russian world champion Matvei Korobov in order to medal.

Edwards said: "It's an unseeded draw and it has not been kind to us. All the team have proved they can beat the best in the world and they will have to do it again.

Hikal is a former African champion and two-time Olympian but ought not to unduly detain Degale, who is hot favourite to get his team off to a winning start before the real tests commence.

North-east pair Bradley Saunders and Jeffries received the kindest draws. Light-welterweight Saunders opens against Ghana's Samuel Kotey with his biggest obstacle to a medal likely to be Bulgarian European champion Boris Georgiev in the last eight.

Jeffries opens with a bye and if he beats Colombia's Pan-American champion Eleider Alvarez and in all likelihood classy Hungarian Istvan Szello - whom he has already beaten - he will guarantee at least bronze.

Flyweight Khalid Yafai begins in the second round against Cuban Andry Laffita, while welterweight Billy Joe Saunders starts against Turkey's world number three Adem Kilicci - with another Cuban awaiting in round two.

Meanwhile young bantamweight Joe Murray must open against China's fancied Yu Gu - whom he beat in November's World Championships - in front of what is expected to be a fervent 13,000-strong home crowd.

Irish light-flyweight Paddy Barnes starts with a bye and can certainly be confident of reaching the medal stages, while fancied middleweight Darren Sutherland takes on Nabil Kassel of Algeria.