By Samantha Lane
ANOTHER Olympic boxer is estranged from the national team with London gold medal hopeful Damien Hooper ejected from the Australian Institute of Sport for clashing with coaches and teammates on a camp.
Boxing Australia chairman Ted Tanner told The Age last night he expected 20-year-old Hooper, the national champion in the under-81 kilogram division and 2010 youth Olympics gold medallist, would return to Canberra where the team is preparing for the Olympics ''in a week or two''.
Tanner said Hooper's altercations with his superiors and teammates had not been physical, but the boxing federation chief described a drop in attitude that the national coach, Don Abnett, lost patience with.
''I think everyone is training and very much on edge. I think that's what it is. This is very serious for these young fellows,'' Tanner said last night.
''Damien was being disruptive and was told he should have a break. I'm certain it's not serious because Damien really has a great respect for Don so he'll be back shortly.
''I think we're all hoping that Damien will win a medal at the Olympics and I expect that he'll be back training with the team in the near future.
''I'm thinking that as soon as Damien is prepared to accept the team environment he'll be back and on track.''
Hooper's temporary exile from the national team follows the doping ban Australia's top female boxer, Bianca Elmir, incurred after testing positive to a diuretic at the February national championships. Elmir, who claims she innocently took medication to make a long-haul flight more comfortable, is out of the Olympic team.
Meanwhile heavyweight Jai Opetaia is yet to join the pre-Olympic camp in Canberra due to a falling out with Abnett, who incensed the 16-year-old by saying he would be out of his depth at the Games.
The youngest boxer Australia has ever selected on an Olympic team, coaches banned Opetaia from a European tour this year after he missed a lot of training due to a family funeral.
''He'll be back next Monday I understand,'' Tanner said of Opetaia last night.