Uneasy lay the head of the Queen — Underwood, that is.
That is, until Monday
That’s when the 28-year-old Seattle resident learned that she had been named to the inaugural Olympic women’s boxing tournament in London.
“I’m just so happy right now. I’ve been waiting for this second chance and it means a lot to be able to go to the Olympics,” said Underwood, a competitor in the lightweight division.
“All I heard was ‘welcome to the Olympic Team’ and I just couldn’t control my emotions. I am just happy and thrilled that they chose me. This is just awesome.”
After winning February’s team trials, Underwood dropped a one-point decision to Norway’s Ingrid Egner in the preliminary round of last month’s world championships in China.
The setback left the five-time national champion short of Olympic qualification requirements for the 12-fighter lightweight field that will compete in London July 27 through Aug. 12.
“This past three weeks almost destroyed me mentally. All this pressure, everything since China has been so hard,” said Underwood.
“I now have the chance to write my own story and my winning the gold medal is now going to be the headline. That’s what I owe to everybody and to myself. I can’t wait to get in the ring, I really can’t. It is going to be way different this time.”
The selection of Underwood gives the United States’ squad a fighter in each of the three weight classes when women’s boxing is contested for the first time as an Olympic event.
Flyweight Marlen Esparza and middleweight Claressa Shields earned Olympic spots at the world championships after winning the trials with Underwood.
USA Boxing officials decided that Underwood still deserved a trip to the London Olympics despite her setback.
“We are thrilled for Queen, and believe that she absolutely deserved to be in London,” said Anthony Bartkowski, USA Boxing’s executive director, to the Associated Press.
“She has been an outstanding representative for the sport since her first national championship win in 2007, and the team feels complete now that she will be joining Marlen and Claressa in London.”
“This is God’s gift to me, the chance to pursue what I’ve always dreamed about. It’s obviously a dream come true and it wasn’t even in my control. I’ve worked hard to get here. I’m just so happy right now,” said Underwood.
“My sister said I was like a helium balloon slowly deflating and I was getting close to the floor but I have my wind back. My whole motto is ‘can’t stop, won’t stop.’ People who have been through something should always set a goal. They can overcome and become a champion in life.”
Photos courtesy of USA Boxing
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org