Boxer Kellie Harrington put in a great morning’s work in Tokyo this morning against a tricky opponent in Imane Khelif of Algeria, to win by unanimous decision and guarantee at least a bronze medal.
Despite a good opening minute from Khelif, Harrington got the measure of her quickly and from the midway point of the opening round, dominated the remainder of proceedings. Her win sends her through to the semi-final on Thursday, and guarantees her a minimum of a bronze medal.
It was also a good morning for athletics as well, with both Andrew Coscoran (Men’s 1500m) and Leon Reid (Men’s 200m) both advancing from their heats to qualify for their respective semi-finals, with Reid’s semi-final taking place later today.
Boxer Aidan Walsh will receive his bronze medal at the medal ceremony in Tokyo later today.
Andrew Coscoran showed both his class and potential at the Olympic Stadium this morning, securing a coveted spot in the Men’s 1500m semi-finals after posting a time of 3:37.11 to finish 8th in his heat. The time saw Coscoran comfortably secure a time qualifier position, with just the top six going through automatically.
Racing in the final heat, the Irishman had an idea of what time would be needed to progress. It was the fastest of the three heats and, at the halfway mark, Coscoran positioned himself perfectly, sitting on the heels of two-time Olympic medallist, Nick Willis of New Zealand. Knowing Willis would be doing just enough to qualify, it was the perfect tactic for the Irishman, with both going safely through.
“We were talking before the race and Feidhlim [coach] said Nick Willis is a seasoned competitor, he’s going to race a smart race, get in behind him,” said Coscoran afterwards.
Looking to Thursday’s semi-finals he added: “There’s nothing more dangerous than someone with nothing to lose…the more races I put back-to-back, I get a little bit better. So, with a day off tomorrow, and then we go again, there’s no reason why I couldn’t [make the final].”
Also progressing from this morning’s heats was Leon Reid in the Men’s 200m. Reid’s time of 20.53 for 5th in his heat, secured his place in this evening’s semi-finals by three thousandths of a second, as the final non-automatic qualifier. Going in the final heat of seven, qualification was extremely difficult with just the top three going through automatically, but a measured effort from Reid was enough to displace those in the previous heats from time-qualifier positions.
Giving his thoughts after the race, he said: “It’s amazing, it wasn’t the best run, it was a gritty run,” adding that his plan for the semi-final is to “give it a good lash, and if I don’t get through, I don’t get through but I’ll give it every chance I’ve got.”
Also lining up in the Men’s 200m heats was Team Ireland’s Marcus Lawler, who recorded his fastest time of the season in 20.73 for 6th in his heat, and 29th overall. Lawler put in a strong bend and closed well on the athletes in front on the home straight to give himself an outside shot of qualification.
“I knew that was going to require a 20.5, and I’m capable of 20.5 but it was just shy of that,” said Lawler of his qualification chances. Speaking of his approach to the Games he added: “I’ve enjoyed every last minute of it and that’s what I really wanted to do. Come out and enjoy it, relax, and run free without being tense and hopefully, I achieved that.”
Phil Healy was also in action this morning in her third and final event of the Games and missed out on a place in the Women’s 400m semi-finals by the narrowest of margins, finishing 4th in her heat in 51.98, just one place from an automatic spot, and one away from a time qualifier position. It was just 0.07 seconds that separated Healy from a semi-final berth, posting the second fastest outdoor time of her career in her fourth race of the championships. However, it wasn’t to be for the Bandon athlete, who leaves the championships as an Olympic finalist, and the first Irish woman to compete in three track and field events at one Olympic Games.
After her race, Healy knew that fresh legs would have made the difference, but was content with her time and performance: “I went out there and gave it my all and that’s my second fastest outdoor time ever, but I know if I was fresh it would certainly have been a PB. To fall short again is disappointing, but it definitely gave me comfort today knowing what I did on top of yesterday.”
Ireland’s Kellie Harrington is now guaranteed at least a bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as she put in a gritty performance this morning against Imane Khelif of Algeria in the Women’s Light (57-60kg) quarter final. Khelif had the edge in the opening minute of the first round, with her long rangy jabs and reach seeing her settle in quickly. Harrington quickly got the measure of her though and, by the end of the round, was given a 4-1 advantage going into the second by the judges.
A measured performance followed from the Dubliner, as she put the pressure back on Khelif throughout the second and third rounds, to take home the win by unanimous decision and secure her spot in the semi-finals where she will face Sudaporn Seesondee of Thailand on Thursday.
Speaking afterwards, Harrington said: “Yeah, she was a very game opponent, very, very rangy. I was trying to slip inside, and found it hard enough to do so but I could hear John shouting ‘move your head, move your head’ and Zaur shouting ‘back hand, left hook, back hand’. That was working for me - it was the simple things that were working for me. It wasn’t a spectacular fight, but this is what champions do, champions just do enough when they need to win and that’s exactly what happened there today. I did enough to get the bout, I wasn’t going inside the pocket to be caught or anything. It was good, I enjoyed it.
“To be honest, I don’t feel pressure about medals or anything like that because at the end of the day, I’m just here to perform and give my best,” she continued. “That wasn’t my best today but again, it’s very hard when you’re up against a tricky opponent to get the best out of you. So yeah, medals are medals. If I hadn’t gotten one I’d have been very upset, but it wouldn’t have been the end of the day, because a medal doesn’t define me as a person. I am more than just a boxer. I am a person and a human being and I have a loving family and a great community and I have a fantastic job so!”
Also speaking afterwards, Team Ireland Leader for Boxing, Bernard Dunne added:“It was a very controlled performance. It was a very awkward opponent, but Kellie figured her out quite quickly. The tactical plan going in, that was worked on over the last couple of days, worked to a tee. It’s great to get past the next step, great to move forward. I’m delighted for Kellie, it’s a well-earned medal.
Looking ahead to her semi-final on Thursday he added: “We faced this opponent before in the World Championships two years ago. Kellie came out on top in that and I know that’s a different contest, but we’ll review the opponent this evening and tomorrow and we’ll have a plan in place. We’ve only been looking at the Algerian opponent over the last couple of days because we’re taking it step-by-step - but we’re on to step number three now for Kellie.
“Our team has performed exceptionally well - all seven athletes. You can see the preparation that has been done, the work that the support team has done, and the coaches. It’s been a hugely challenging tournament but the performances have been top notch. There’s a couple of close decisions that we didn’t get but you’re going home with two medals, when seven qualified. There’s huge potential within this squad still and it’s great to be a part of it.”
The Individual Show Jumping qualifiers will get under way from 11am (Irish time) today, with Darragh Kenny and VDL Cartello eighth out for Ireland, Bertram Allen and Pacino Amiro (ISH) 16th to take to the arena while Cian O’Connor and Kilkenny (ISH) will be 25th into the arena. There will be 73 individuals to jump, with 30 to qualify for tomorrow night’s final.
MORNING RESULTS DAY 11: AUGUST 3rd, 2021
Men’s 1500m Heats - Andrew Coscoran – 8th in heat in 3:37.11 (progresses to semi-final)
Women’s 400m Heats – Phil Healy – 4th in heat in 51.98
Men’s 200m Heats – Marcus Lawlor – 6th in heat in 20.73
Men’s 200m Heats – Leon Reid – 5th in heat in 20.53 (progresses to semi-final)
Women’s Lightweight quarter-finals - Kellie Harrington (IRL) v Imane Khelif (ALG) – win for IRL 5-0 unanimous decision
DAY 11 SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES ARE IRISH TIME): August 3rd, 2021
*Schedule may be subject to change
11:00 Equestrian – Darragh Kenny and VDL Cartello, Bertram Allen and Pacino Amiro and Cian O’Connor and Kilkenny - Show Jumping Individual Qualifiers
11:27 Boxing – Aidan Walsh – Bronze Medal Presentation, Men’s Welter
13:06 Athletics – Leon Reid – Men’s 200m semi-final