England boxing gold medal hope Khalid Yafai has become the latest big-name athlete to withdraw from the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. The 21-year-old from Birmingham, who would have started as favourite in the 52kg flyweight division, has pulled out due to a long-standing elbow injury.
Announcing the news on Facebook, Yafai said he was “gutted”. The decision means three-time ABA champion Tommy Stubbs will now compete for England in the flyweight category. The absence of the European silver medallist will be a blow to the England boxing team’s medal haul ambitions.They claimed five gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne four years ago. Yafai had travelled with the rest of his team to their holding camp in Thailand before they travel to Delhi on 2 October for the Games, which get under way the following day and run until 14 October. Other squad members include the two other British boxers who secured silver medals at the European Amateur Boxing Championship in Moscow in June, Bournemouth’s Iain Weaver and Tom Stalker from Liverpool. Liverpool’s Stubbs moves up from the 48kg division to box at the higher weight in Delhi.
“Khalid had an operation on his elbow following the European Championships in July,” said head coach, Rob McCracken. “Despite the progress he has made, we have decided it would not be in our long-term interests to risk him at this tournament, so have made the decision to bring in Tommy Stubbs at flyweight. “Tommy is our number two at the weight and I am confident he will acquit himself well.” McCracken added: “Khalid needs to rest the injury and give it more time to recover from the operation so that he is fully fit for the Olympic qualifying competitions in 2011.” Australian discus thrower Scott Martin and sprint hurdler Hayley Butler have also pulled out of the Commonwealth Games because of injury. “It is very unfortunate and has nothing to do with security concerns. Both pulled out due to injuries,” a team spokesman said in Delhi. “Scott had an injury to his pectoral muscle while Hayley suffered a calf muscle injury.”
Neither athlete travelled with the Australian team that touched down in the Indian capital on Wednesday. Martin won the discus gold at the 2006 Games in Melbourne, where he also clinched a bronze medal in the shot put – BBCnews