Your feel-good Olympic news of the day comes courtesy of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA), which this afternoon announced that American fighter Queen Underwood will be among the lightweight contenders in London this summer at the first ever women's Olympic boxing tournament (via nbcolympics.com).
After a painful 26-25 decision in the quarterfinals of the Women's World Championships left Underwood just shy of an Olympic berth, the AIBA's Tripartite Commission tabbed her for the final remaining American bid in her weight class.
This, in plain speak, is fantastic news. Few deserve the title "Olympian" more than the woman just granted it today.
Underwood's story begins in a dark and all-too-common place. As a child she and her older sister were regularly raped by their father. He was eventually arrested, but the psychological scars remained.
Despite evident athletic prowess, an oft-depressed Underwood drifted into a life of semi-employment and substance abuse after high school. It wasn't until she came upon a Seattle boxing gym at age 19 that she found purpose.
And now for the past decade she has poured her everything into the sport, toiling in gyms, gutting through workouts—and much of the time without any guarantee that her sweet science would achieve Olympic recognition.
But it has, and now so has Queen.
Don't assume the story will end here. Underwood is a six-time national champion and she took bronze at the 2010 Women's World Championships. As richly as she deserves this Olympic berth, she deserves equal consideration as a legitimate medal contender—perhaps even America's first in this just-introduced event.
We pundits are fond of skepticism and nuance, but this story has precious little of either. Queen Underwood's Olympic journey is one of unlikely triumphs and rewarded faith—an absolute gem buried beneath the rubble of cynicism that pervades so much of today's news.
Today, it just got better.
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