Marshall will have to wait until Rio 2016 to go for gold

Savannah Marshall
Savannah Marshall

WELL done Jess.

For those of us lucky to be in London yesterday they were three words you could not avoid on every tube station or bus stop or billboard.

Nor could you tire of reading them after Jessica Ennis became Britain’s golden girl in the Olympic Stadium at the weekend.

And how those of us who have followed Savannah Marshall from precocious youngster to world class and world champion had hoped to marvel at ‘well done Sav’ posters.

Sadly, we are going to have to wait until Rio in 2016.

You cannot say with any certainty that the 21-year-old would have struck gold but she surely deserved a fair shot at it.

And this reporter is not alone in believing that she got the mucky end of the stick in her middleweight quarter-final against Marina Volnova.

The 23-year-old, from Kazakhstan, was awarded a 16-12 victory and even if she had edged it, and it’s a big if, then the winning margin and how the points were awarded was laughable.

So, was Savannah robbed? Or did she just fall below her incredible high standards?

The answer probably lies somewhere in between.

Marshall looked nervous, and who could blame her. She had 10,000 people shouting and screaming for her, not to mention the weight of a nation on her young shoulders.

She was also a little ring rusty and a bit flat, having not thrown a fist in anger since outpointing Elena Vystropova to become world champion on May 20.

Volnova, meanwhile, had the luxury of having enjoyed a rehearsal on the ExCel stage on Sunday when she beat Elizabeth Andiego from Kenya in the first round. And, clearly, she had done her homework on the Headland ABC star.

The Marshall who took apart the best in the world in Qinhuangdao was negated by the former world fifth-rated heavyweight who dragged her into her territory of non-stop close-quarter action.

She never let Savannah use her accurate long shots and while there was no shortage of effort, she was lacking her customary spark.

Marshall had occasional success but it was perhaps no great shock when both the first largely two untidy sessions ended level – 4-4 and 3-3 – which prompted gasps from the crowd.

It suited Volnova to keep it scrappy and Marshall needed to up her game. She seemed to do exactly that in round three, thanks to a good left to the body and two long combinations.

Incredibly the judges marked the round 3-1 to Volnova and Marshall, trailing 10-8, was under pressure to deliver in the last. She duly gave it her all, landing a right early on and also a vicious three-punch combination.

And Volnova? She spent almost the entire two minutes holding and Croatian referee Martin Tadic let her get away with it.

How the judges found six scoring shots for the Kazakh, who did not want to box, and award only four to a girl who did, was a disgrace.

To Marshall’s credit she, typically, did not look for any excuses.

“I’m very disappointed to go out of the Olympics at the first hurdle,” she said. “I didn’t fight to my full potential.

“Everything about my preparation was right but I have to give credit to my opponent who stopped me fighting my fight.”

Savannah will be back – she is a class act – but it’s such a shame her shot at glory has been cruelly snatched away from her.