Qualifying for the Rio Olympics was a dream come true for Victorian boxer Jason Whateley, but he has a lot of dreams and a lot of those are still to be fulfilled.
For one, he wants to make his Commonwealth Games debut, and win gold, on the Gold Coast next year.
And in the shorter term, he wants to go to this year’s World Championships in Germany to “make amends” for his performance at the last world titles.
On the weekend he took a big step toward achieving his two outstanding boxing dreams, defending his Australian National 91kg title in Adelaide in impressive style.
He beat fellow Victorian, Adrian Poletti, in a unanimous points decision, but said as an Olympic boxer he is feeling pressure to perform at his best all the time.
“It felt great to be back in the ring after Rio,” Whateley said.
“I had three fights this year previous to the national selection event, winning all three, so my form was good heading in.
“But I had a lot to prove and winning that title again was very important to me. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform after being on the Olympic team and I believe that pressure had affected my performance, so that is something I’ll work on going forward.”
Other winners in Adelaide included Queenslanders Joseph Goodall (super heavyweight) and Clay Waterman (81kg), and impressive Victorian, Harry Garside, in the 60kg division.
Whateley took some time off boxing post-Rio, and like many Olympic athletes had moments when he found the going tough.
But he soon found plenty to keep him distracted, and then made an important coaching decision which he says has revitalised his career.
“Post Rio it was tough to get back into the swing of things,” he said.
“But I found keeping myself busy and focusing on building up my business, Pure Boxing, was the best thing to take my mind off things.
“I had some time off boxing training and have now started training under a new coach, Marcos Amado, which is very exciting. It has refuelled my hunger, it’s so great to have a fresh start.”
And so to this year’s World Championships. It will be the third world titles for the 26-year-old, and he’s hoping his Rio experience and his new coach will help him turn around his two previous results.
“I feel like I have under achieved at my previous two world titles, and am looking forward to getting positive results in Germany this year,” he said.
“I think my experience with Rio and other International training camps I’ve had in the last two years, since Doha 2015, will make a big difference for me.”
Whateley has earned the right to feel confident about his boxing, winning his way to Rio through a torturous qualification path that many boxers found too daunting.
And while a first-round loss wasn’t what he had been hoping for, he got to experience competing on the biggest stage in the world. Not only did it open his eyes, but it also added to his hunger to succeed.
World Championships this year will undoubtedly be even tougher than the Olympics, but Whateley is excited by the challenge. He’s even more excited about the prospect of competing in a major event in front of his home fans next year.
“With the Commonwealth Games only a year away I think about it most days,” he said.
“The Commonwealth Games is the only major tournament I’m yet to compete in and I’m aiming to get gold there in front of an Australian crowd.
“I’m very excited about that. That’s the main goal for me now and I’ll be giving my all to achieve that.”
The full list of title winners from last week’s Nationals in Adelaide;
91+kg – Joseph Goodall (QLD)
91kg – Jason Whateley (VIC)
81kg – Clay Waterman (QLD)
75kg – Campbell Somerville (VIC)
69kg – Andrew Hunt (QLD)
64kg – Daniel Heyes (WA)
60kg – Harry Garside (VIC)
56kg – Sam Goodman (NSW)
52kg – Tyler Blizzard (QLD)