WHEN Beaudesert State High School students enjoy the excitement and glamour of their well-earned school formal, one of their classmates will be missing.
Dylan Biggs will be swapping his formal wear for boxing gear after Olympic qualifying rules were changed to allow athletes turning 18 before December 31 to take part in Olympic trials
The Beaudesert boxing champ said he scraped in by a matter of days.
"My birthday is on December 27, so when I beat Connor Wilcox at the All Stars Boxing Tournament last weekend, that gave me a spot in the selection trials for the Olympics," he said.
"It was a good fight, Connor was tough, he was a skilled fighter.
"I started training for this when I was 11, so that's almost seven years and fighting for my country at the Olympics is the ultimate goal."
Beaudesert Boxing Club coach Justin O'Leary said Biggs will be the youngest contender at the Australian pre-selection tournament Melbourne in early December.
"The event is the Asia / Oceana Olympic Qualification Pre-selection and when Dylan wins there he will go to the next stage," he said.
"He will be up against men in their 20s but I have no doubt he can win in Melbourne.
"Then he will go to the trials in China, where he will have to come out in the top five out of 30 boxers.
"If he wins in the first attempt, he'll be at the Olympics but if he doesn't win he will have a second chance at another qualifying event."
Mr O'Leary said they had originally been aiming for the 2024 Olympics in France but changed their focus when Boxing Australia announced that anyone born in 2001 would be eligible to compete in the pre-selection tournament.
"We only found out in mid-September about the new rules but I knew Dylan's time was now, even though those men he will be fighting have had all year to prepare and we only had a few weeks," he said.
"He has been fighting at elite level against fighters in their 20s and he has been winning easily.
"There's one thing about Dylan, even though he's 17, whenever he hits someone, they know they've been hit.
"He has two important skills, speed and power and they come naturally to him. A couple of the boxers he'll come up against have fought in the Commonwealth Games but that doesn't worry Dylan.
"Anyone who goes into the ring not believing they will win shouldn't be fighting. There will be no excuses - we won't be saying 'oh he's still young, there's plenty of time' because this is the time.
"I have no doubts he'll win."
Mr O'Leary said Biggs would be in New Zealand with fellow Beauy champ Kalob Gray to fight in the U19 championships when the school formal is on.
He said Biggs would defend his U19 title against the New Zealand and Samoan champions.
"He's just graduated year 12 and he's missing his formal, it's a big sacrifice," he said.
"But these two fights will be perfect preparation for what's to come.
"It shows how seriously Dylan is taking his boxing, he is training 12 times and putting in 14 hours every week. He has also improved his diet and will be in great shape in time for the Olympics in Tokyo next year."
Both Biggs and Gray are looking for corporate sponsorship to help them further their boxing careers and stay in the sport they both love. Contact Justin O'Leary on 0499 944 250 to find out how you can support these athletes.