Hartlepool boxer Savannah Marshall to fight for Britain at Combat Cup in Russia

COMBAT: Savannah Marshall with the medal and cup she won at the European Union championships.
COMBAT: Savannah Marshall with the medal and cup she won at the European Union championships.

SAVANNAH Marshall is preparing to return to the international stage for a major tournament.

The 22-year-old, recently named as the sports personality of the year at the first Hartlepool Mail Sports Awards, has been included in the Great Britain team going to Russia for the World Combat Games.

Over 1,300 athletes from all over the world are scheduled to participate in 15 different martial arts and combat sports in the second staging of the event.

Marshall is part of a small GB side which also includes fellow World Championship and Olympic team-mate, Natasha Jonas.

The squad, which also features several male boxers who did not make it to the World Championships – currently taking place in Kazakhstan – fly out to St Petersburg on Friday.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Marshall told SportMail. “I’m just happy to be boxing again.

“I wasn’t expect to be going to another tournament this year so for GB to send a team to this is fantastic news.

“I don’t know a great deal about the competition.

“All I know is that it’s more than just boxing – there are a lot of other combat sports there.

“GB are only taking me and Natasha and a few lads so I think there are only selected weight divisions rather than all the categories.

“But it’s just good to be boxing again. I thought the EU Championships was going to be my only international event of 2013.”

Marshall put behind her all the disappointments of the London Olympics by striking gold at the European Union Championships in Hungary in July.

The world champion brought home the Under 75 kilo gold medal after three impressive victories.

Marshall overcame a tough battle against the highly-physical and in-form Poland fighter Lidia Fidura in the quarter-final before defeating Sweden’s new number one Love Holgersson in the semis.

She then faced old rival Nouchka Fontijn in the final.

And the Dutch fighter, who had beaten Marshall in the European Championships in 2011, was this time no match for the Headland ABC star, who won on a unanimous verdict of the judges.

To come back from Olympic quarter-final elimination and two long injury lay-offs in such style was a measure of Marshall’s class.

And she is looking forward to testing herself in Russia.

“I’m not sure which countries are going to be there,” she said.

“It’s going to be a good competition, whoever’s there.”

Marshall has trained hard at the English Institute of Sport as well as the Headland gym, where he has worked under her club coach, Tim Coulter.

“I feel good,” she said. “I’ve worked hard at Sheffield and been sparring with a couple of the 81 kilo lads from the GB development squad.

“Back home, Tim has taken me on the pads and I’ve felt really sharp.

“There have not been may tournaments this year so to get the chance to go here is great.

“It looks similar to the London Prepares event which was in the year before the Olympics when a load of different sports were taking place at the same time.”

Hopefully, it will prove to be an omen.

Marshall took gold in that competition, which included a semi-final win over American middleweight Franchon Crews, who will be in the USA team in St Petersburg.