COLUMBIA, Md. — Norway native Amelia Moore believes the third time will be the charm to realize her Olympic dreams.
The amateur boxer, who now resides in Maryland, returned home Sunday from the second round of Olympic qualifiers in Colorado Springs, Colo. She spent nine days out West, fighting for four of those. She won two bouts and lost two, making it to the semifinals by coming in fourth place.
That’s just one spot shy of making it to the final tournament in October, when it will be determined who will represent the U.S. during the 2016 Olympics, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“I am proud no matter what and I know what I have to do to compete in Baltimore in the last qualifier (in September),” she said by phone Tuesday.
Moore has to garner third place or higher during the Baltimore qualifier to go to on to the October tournament. The top three competitors from three weight classes at each of three qualifiers will square off to see who will represent their country next summer.
She handily won her first fight in Colorado, taking away a 3-0 win, beating Ashley Moore of Massachusetts in every round they fought. During her second fight, Moore beat Dalia Gomez of California 2-1.
During the semifinals, Moore battled Jajaira Gonzalez, a two-time youth world champion who had just oame back from competing in the Youth Olympics, and lost.
“She is one of the best fighters in the U.S. Definitely the person to look out for, definitely the person to beat,” Moore said.
She didn’t feel well the day she was supposed to fight Gonzalez and the schedule got pushed back, but she isn’t making excuses.
“I didn’t have the energy I needed to or the mental focus in order to go into that fight 100 percent. It’s a learning experience — you can learn to adapt to these situations. Next time I am faced with that challenge, I will be ready,” Moore said.
The final bout ended in disappointment for the burgeoning athlete. It was a close split decision, 2-1, but ended up in favor of her opponent, Stalacia Leggett of California.
“It’s such a bummer. I thought I won,” Moore said. “I have never competed at that level before, ever. To make it that far is just incredible. It’s about trusting yourself and trusting your endurance. It’s such a mental game in there. When you fight over time, you evolve.”
Prior heading to the most recent Olympic qualifiers, Moore only had 16 fights under her belt, which pales in comparison to some of her competitors who have national and international experience and titles. She also had two major game changers working against her — her longtime coach Thomas Langley Sr. died in February and she was hospitalized the month before with pneumonia, which made her miss the first Olympic qualifiers.
Losing her coach was “absolutely devastating.”
“It was really awful. He was one of the greatest people I’ve ever met in my entire life,” Moore said. “I was really, really blessed. Even with his passing, he had a plan for me.”
She’s referring to her current coach Robert Crawford picking up where Langley left off. The pair got to do some serious bonding out in Colorado.
“His style is not the same as Mr. Langley so I had to basically learn from the ground up and tweak some things and also incorporate the Langley style,” Moore said, noting it had been only been three months since her original mentor passed away.
On top of building a relationship with her new coach, boxing has helped Moore and her mother, Nancy Drew of Norway, to reconnect. Moore said they hadn’t spoken all that often in the past couple of years. On Friday, Drew was a proud mama bear.
“She’s not cocky. She’s just an athlete. I am proud of her and who she is,” Drew said about her daughter. “She’s got the spirit of Mr. Langley and everyone here on Earth cheering for her.”
For Moore, the sport has simplified life.
“There’s something about boxing. It really puts me in perspective getting punched in the face all of the time,” she said, laughing. “Somethings don’t seem like a really big deal anymore.”
Next on the docket is the Ringside National Tournament in August in Missouri and possibly the upcoming Women’s Golden Gloves tournament in Florida. Moore wants to earn herself a title or two to garner larger sponsors to bring her fighting to the next level.
But most of all, she’s thankful for the fan following that exploded almost overnight and her lifestyle.
“I want to live that life when you do something and it feels right. This is the me that I want,” she said. “You know you’re doing something right when you’re inspiring people. That’s all I want in life.”