Olympics-Boxing-Frenchman puts teary Beijing exit behind him

LONDON, July 29 Sun Jul 29, 2012 1:41pm EDT

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LONDON, July 29 (Reuters) - Four years after leaving Beijing in tears when a last-minute warning for holding cost him a shot at a gold medal, France's Alexis Vastine was just happy to be back in an Olympic ring on Sunday.

The centre of a heated dispute described as "a murder" by France's head coach in 2008, the experienced 25-year-old dispatched tidy German fighter Patrick Wojcicki in much calmer fashion on Day Two of the Olympics at London's boxing arena.

Vastine, a soldier who works at Paris' ministry of defence, booked his place in the last 16 of the men's welterweight class thanks to commanding first and third rounds before turning his mind to going a step beyond the bronze medal he reluctantly accepted last time out.

"One has to look forward, you can't stay in the past. I'm lucky to have a second chance in the Olympics," Vastine, one of five French fighters at the Games, told reporters after the bout.

"That was a bad moment but once I walked out there, mentally I was looking forward and now I want to take it further than in Beijing."

If he can get past Mongolia's Tuvshinbat Byamba in four days time, Vastine will likely face a quarter-final against top seed and current world amateur champion Taras Shelestyuk, one of four Ukrainian world champions looking to replicate that success in London.

World number two Freddie Evans of Britain, who admitted to being overwhelmed by the rapturous support he received in the compact arena, also eased through his first round match, as did Cameron 'The Hammer' Hammond, the Australian ranked just three places behind him.

Hammond next faces Canadian father-of-two Custio Clayton, who came through impressively against the more fancied Mexican Oscar Molina Casillas to record his country's first victory in an Olympic bout for eight years.

Their last boxing gold was won 24 years ago by a young Lennox Lewis, who went on to win multiple world professional heavyweight titles representing his home country of Britain.

"The first thing we said coming in here was to get that first fighter away. I think I did amazing, all the hard work paid off," Clayton, whose seven-year-old daughter was watching back in Canada, told reporters.

"We in Canada, we try so hard so hopefully we can get some medals in boxing. We've got three guys and a girl so hopefully we can do good." (Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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