SHELLEY Watts admits the last 12 months has been the most difficult period of her career.
But in a little over two weeks time, all the hard work and disappointment could be worth it if she gains a spot in the Australian team for next year’s Commonwealth Games.
Watts is the reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist after her efforts at Glasgow in 2014.
The 30-year-old is no stranger to overcoming a hurdle or two following her first-round exit at the Rio Olympic Games.
“That really messed me up and took some time to get over that,” she said.
“It took about 400 days before I returned back to the ring.”
Watts admitted she had been better prepared for other events, but was confident her experience in the ring would keep her out of trouble.
“It’s not the best I’ve been prepared (for the Commonwealth Games trials),” she said.
The Rio Olympics really messed me up and took some time to get over that.Shelley Watts
“But experience helps you compete and fight under that pressure and under all sorts of circumstances so when it comes time for me to get in the ring I’m definitely going to be ready.”
A position on the national boxing team for the trip to the Glitter Strip will not soften the blow of missing out at Rio.
She knows it can’t.
“The Commonwealth Games are a completely different ball game to what the Olympics are,” she said.
“To make the Olympic Games you have to be in the top 12 in the world and it’s not just about being the best in Australia.
“I don’t think you can try to make up for something that hurt you by trying to succeed somewhere else.”
Joining Watts on the road to the Gold Coast are Port Macquarie Boxing Academy teammates Jessica Messina and Felipe Blemith.
They all have a different story to tell.
I don’t think you can try to make up for something that hurt you by trying to succeed somewhere else.Shelley Watts
There is also common theme between Watts, Messina and Blemith – and it isn’t with their training base in Port Macquarie.
Messina and Blemith have also had to overcome their own setbacks.
Messina had to bounce back from a defeat to Saadat Abdulaeva in the world championships in Kazakhstan last year, while Blemith was beaten in qualifiers for the Rio Olympics.
For Messina, winning three bouts in two weeks will be enough to qualify for the home games.
“If I win gold that opens up the pathway for Commonwealth Games and that will be the highlight of my career,” Messina said.
“I have been to world championships, but to make the Commonwealth Games in your own country – what more could you ask for.”
I’ve always wanted to represent Australia in a sporting event from a little kid so to be able to do it in boxing – one of the toughest sports out – is amazing.Felipe Blemith
After 13 years’ boxing experience, Blemith will need to win four fights to progress to the Gold Coast and fulfil a lifelong dream of representing his country.
“I’ve been boxing a long time and closest I got was the Olympic qualifier which I lost in a very close decision,” he said.
“Even though I lost, it gave me the confidence that I had the goods.
“I’ve always wanted to represent Australia in a sporting event from a little kid so to be able to do it in boxing – one of the toughest sports out – is amazing.”
The Commonwealth Games trials will be held in Sydney between November 1 and 4.