NICK McDONALD'S dream of reaching the 2004 Olympics in Athens has moved a step closer after he was selected to compete in the European qualifying tournaments.
The 19-year-old from Moreton will compete in three events in February, March and April with the aim of claiming a medal in order to book his place in Greece.
Before then he will head for Germany and a 12-day training camp with the national squad.
An apprentice with BAe Systems, Nick is hopeful of making the grade.
"I just have to keep winning really," he assessed. "If I do that then I should be OK, but it will be difficult. All I can do is box to my ability."
He has a strong recent international record behind him having helped England beat Australia in London and the USA in Liverpool.
Nick triumphed against Australian Joel Brunker 35-15, a significant step up after he struggled to overcome American Kevin Hudgins 17-11.
He said: "It was a bad performance by me really, but it was my first fight in seven months or so.
"I feel as if everyone is expecting a lot of me now which is good, but perhaps they should be a bit more understanding too. He was a good fighter and better than the number seven ranking he had I thought.
"Still it shows that people think a lot of me and it is up to me to try and live up to their and my own expectations."
He added: "It was great to overcome the Aussies because like most people I watched the World Cup final and it was a cracking game especially as we beat the Aussies. Jonny Wilkinson is a great player and his dedication to his sport is some-thing anyone can learn from.
"For instance I have been doing extra training to try and improve my skills and I think that paid off against the Australians and now I hope it will make a difference in the future too." His next fight will be tomorrow evening when he faces West Ham's Matthew Marsh at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool.
Nick's trainer George Treble agrees that to make the Athens team will be a difficult assignment for his protégé.
"What you have to bear in mind is that they won't take people who they don't think can do well and Nick at 19 could come up against a 30-year-old Cuban who has been to three Olympics already and is massively experienced," he said.
"It may be that Athens is just a bit too early, but Nick has always raised his game to meet other challenges and he is looking back to his best now."