Mikiah Kreps' Olympic odyssey is nearing its conclusion.
The 23-year-old Niagara Falls native is in Lake Charles, Louisiana, for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Boxing, competing against eight other fighters in the featherweight (125-pound) division for the chance to represent her country in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Kreps arrived in Louisiana on Saturday. The trials begin with meetings and bracket drawings tonight, and training starts Monday. Championships will be held Dec. 16.
Forty fighters are taking part in the trials, across five weight classes. After the trials, USA Boxing will select 10 to "advance from the trials competition to the next stage of the selection process," according to its website.
Kreps simplified the process just a bit.
"It's based on winning," she said. "You have to win."
And, like any good boxer, Kreps has no doubt she'll do just that.
"My chances are very high. I 100% believe that I'm going to take the whole tournament," she said. "I've been training my whole entire life for this. I had my first fight at 9 years old, been in the gym since 5. I know how hard I train, not just physically but mentally. ...
"I believe that I've already won the tournament. I just have to go out and get it."
Kreps' quest to make the Olympics is in its fifth month, if you ignore years and years of basic training. She took part in a Team USA camp in August in Colorado before trining for two weeks in Germany. From there, she competed in the Women's World Championships in Russia, placing third in her weight class. Then, it was back stateside, to California for USA Boxing's 2019 Last Chance Qualifier.
Kreps won her class in the qualifier. She earned a spot in the Team Trials by fighting her way into the championship of her weight class, then placed first when her final opponent, Iyana Verduzco (Los Angeles) pulled out of the title fight.
Kreps will have a chance to take on Verduzco in the next two weeks. Also in competing at featherweight are Yarisel Ramirez (Las Vegas), Isamary Aquino (Universal City, Texas), Lupe Gutierrez (Sacramento, California), Andrea Medina (San Diego), Destiny Jasso (Dallas) and Melanie Costa (Norton, Massachusetts).
In her career, Kreps has beaten Jasso, lost to Medina and split two bouts with Costa.
With Kreps in Louisiana is her mother and trainer, Deborah Fields-Kreps, who has been with her daughter nearly every step of the way.
"When I'm home, anything we do, it's all me and her," an appreciative Mikiah said. "It's been me and my mom for years now. She's always been there with me, full-time for the past four or five years. ...
"She's made so many sacrifices for me throughout the years. She's always made it happen. These tournaments, they're not cheap."