COLCHESTER'S international boxer Lewis Richardson believes the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics until next year has given him more time to improve.

The 23-year-old middleweight had been aiming to qualify to compete for Great Britain at the Games, this summer.

But his hopes were dashed after the coronavirus pandemic led to the suspension of all boxing and the global event being delayed until 2021.

Richardson has been back at GB Boxing headquarters in Sheffield for the last four weeks and is now sparring in the ring there again, after restrictions were lifted.

He is looking to use his time productively, as he aims to continue his quest to qualify for next year's Games.

Richardson said: "I see this as another year for me to improve, with the postponement of the Olympics until 2021.

"It's a potential negative but for me, I only see it as a positive.

"I've had time to look back and reflect on 2019, which has been quite nice.

"With the way that things have been over the last 15 or 16 months, I haven't really had that time.

"The year 2018 was a tough one for me with my injury but I don't feel the need to talk about that any more.

"It was a massive learning curve for me mentally and it taught me a lot about myself.

"It made me a strong person and I could see that progression, in 2019.

"I went to four tournaments and I achieved last 16, quarter-finals, bronze and then a gold medal.

"My goal was to qualify for on the podium to have a chance of being selected for qualifying.

"My goal was to establish myself on the squad and internationally and become a podium member of the squad - allowing me a chance for Olympic qualification.

"I won gold at the test event in Tokyo and that was my goal fulfilled.

"But I was still number two in the squad and I still wanted to be number one - I took my opportunity."

Richardson was on course to make it to the Olympics, after winning his first qualifier against France’s Victor Yoka, in March.

The former Thomas Lord Audley student has potentially two more qualifying fights to win to clinch his place for Tokyo, ahead of next year's Games.

He added: "I'm two steps away from qualifying for the Olympic Games.

"It's massive and this kind of thing can change your life.

"It’s been a hell of a journey for me, from club to national to international with GB Boxing - and the future continues to excite me. Long may it continue."

Meanwhile, Richardson has revealed keeping fit with his older brother Deacon kept him going during lockdown.

The GB boxer added: "We've done bike rides together, living together and training together.

"He was the one who took me down the gym when I was 13 years old.

"He was there for my first fight and my last fight and when I win, we win.

"He travelled out to Tokyo with me last year and he's been brilliant for me, the whole time."

Richardson is backed by his sponsors Datum Group, Maldon Demolition, Highwoods Health Clinic, Baccus and Jak Finch Hair and has thanked them for all of their support.