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Taha Ahmad, Tina Rahimi represent changing face of Australian boxing

“Some people think [Muslim] women shouldn’t box but most have just been supportive,” the 26-year-old said. “They see that I’m very passionate about boxing. This is what I love doing. I don’t care what they think. This is my life.”

And what if someone wasn’t supportive?

“I’d say, ‘Got something to say’?” she laughed. “Then ‘whack!’”

Juggling her faith along with her love of boxing has been problematic, especially during Ramadan when Muslims can’t drink or eat between sunrise and sundown.

“I’m really into my faith, so it’s not something I can avoid,” she said. “I make sure I do my prayers. It’s something I can’t not do. The same as Ramadan. Because of Ramadan, I couldn’t do the camp in Sheffield. There was no point of me going.

“The training in Ramadan is really hard. You train before you start fasting. Then you go to the gym [at night] an hour after you’ve eaten. You’re hungry but you have to control your desires with food because you can’t eat too much, especially if you’ve got a comp.

“It was tough because I had worlds straight after Ramadan this year, so I was training and trying to cut weight. I was missing out on daily events and controlling myself with all the good food. It was quite tough.”

Boxer Tina Rahimi at Brotherhood Boxn Gym in Greenacre.
Credit:Louise Kennerley

kaye scott38, a light-middleweight veteran of three Commonwealth Games, said having Rahimi in the squad has been a “learning experience”.

“There’s quite a few of us on the team who have been unsure what we can do, what we can’t do,” she says. “[Ramadan] was tough for her because this is a weight-based sport. It’s not as easy to track your weight.”

Saudis snap up Smith

Still on Smith, this is his last competition after an eight-year stint as Australian coach — because he’s been snapped up by Saudi Arabia to head their program.

Nope, Greg Norman didn’t hatch the deal, making Smith an instant squillionaire like those who have joined the LIV Golf rebel league.

‘I don’t know how much the caddies get but maybe I’ll see if there’s some openings.’

Saudi Arabia-bound boxing coach Kevin Smith

“I wish!” Smith laughed. “They’ve been looking for a new technical director for a while. My role in Australia has changed a lot over the last 18 months. Boxing Australia took away a lot of my responsibilities. A big part of what I was doing, until the Olympic success, has all changed.”

And, no, Smith won’t be pocketing the same astronomical sums as Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka.

“I don’t know how much the caddies get but maybe I’ll see if there’s some openings,” he smiled. “It’s pretty much the average salary for our sport.”

Smith has been a success, culminating with Harry Garside‘s bronze at the Tokyo Olympics – Australia’s first medal since Seoul in 1988.

“That’s the highlight but there’s loads of other achievements,” Smith said.

“We’ve won quite a few medals at world championships: nine different boxers have won 10 medals in eight years. We won 11 medals at the last two Commonwealth Games.”

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Boo-hoo Brits find voice

There’s a new sport developing here in Birmingham: Australian Bashing.

At almost every event, there’s been various levels of booing and heckling whenever Australia are competing. A ripple of booing was even heard at the women’s 3 x 3 wheelchair basketball.

It’s all in good spirit, of course. Do not malice at all. But it’s clear spectators have two teams: theirs and whoever Australia are playing. Look at the medal tally, bitches.

Athletes love them Apples

As a regular victim of technology, your humble correspondent regularly finds himself at the Apple Genius bar on the verge of tears and in need of a hug.

The friendly staff at the Apple store in New Street not only turned my frown upside down — and got the godforsaken Wi-Fi on my laptop going again — but revealed a slew of athletes had been dropping into the store.

Mostly, it’s because only seven of the 72 Commonwealth Games nations and territories have dedicated Apple stores.

“For some, this has been their only chance to come into a store,” one staffer reported.

THE QUOTE
“A special night in Birmingham … said no one ever.” — The in-house commentator at the 3 x 3 basketball was on fiyah on Tuesday night.

Australia's Jesse Wagstaff and England's Jamell Anderson do battle during the 3x3 basketball gold medal match.

Australia’s Jesse Wagstaff and England’s Jamell Anderson do battle during the 3×3 basketball gold medal match.Credit:Getty

THUMBS UP
Australia may have lost the men’s final of the 3 x 3 basketball – to England, no less – but holy hell it was some match that went to overtime. The atmosphere was as good as anything this jaded old hack has seen in a long time. We can take solace in our men’s wheelchair team beating Canada.

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THUMBS DOWN
Scans have revealed Wallabies star Samu Kerevi blew his ACL when he was injured in a sevens pool match against Kenya earlier this week. It’s a little like sonny bill williams rupturing his Achilles when striding out for New Zealand at the Rio Olympics. Let’s hope Wallabies types don’t dissuade players like the big center from wanting to play sevens.

Get all the latest news from the Birmingham Commonwealth Games here. We’ll be live blogging the action from 4pm-10am daily.

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