“This is what dreams are made of” – Sensational afternoon at boxing sees Ireland’s medal tally rise to five
A sensational afternoon in the boxing ring for Ireland has seen Team Ireland’s medal tally rise to five thanks to three superb performances from Michaela Walsh, Grainne Walsh and Kurt Walker in their respective quarter-final bouts.
Michaela Walsh was first into the ring and put on a stunning exhibition of boxing to drive home to a memorable victory that saw her knock out the current World Champion and number one seed, Ornella Wahner of Germany on a 4-1 split decision.
A close opening round saw Walsh and Wahner sizing each other up early on, with Wahner landing some hard blows in the opening stages. Walsh found her rhythm quickly though and began to dictate the pace of the fight with some quality shots landing. A cagey second round followed, as Wahner was not giving up easily, but a gritty performance from Walsh saw her take the win in style.
“I feel great, I felt a bit surprised that I had a split but obviously I was against the current World Champion,” she said afterwards. “It was amazing to get that win. I had a tough draw, but that’ll make winning the gold medal more worth it.
“Since she won gold in my weight my eyes have been on her – I’ve been wanting to fight her for a long time. I boxed her as a youth boxer in the semi-finals of the World Championships, and she beat me by one point and stole my dream of becoming a youth world champion, so I wasn’t going to let her steal my dream of becoming a European Games champion. Thankfully I’m into the next stage now, but I’m not satisfied yet – the job’s not done yet.”
Grainne Walsh was also in dazzling form as she stormed home to Ireland’s first unanimous quarter-final win this afternoon, with victory over European Champion, Elina Gustafsson of Finland. Grainne dominated from the off, taking complete control of the opening round and not allowing Gustafsson to settle. A stronger second round from Gustafsson did not deter Walsh as she kept her cool and delivered a polished performance, landing some key blows to see her home to glory.
“This is what dreams are made of,” a thrilled Grainne said afterwards. “I’m actually a bit emotional, it’s a great achievement and I’m just delighted with myself. I felt my technique and my speed would be enough to beat her, I had to bite down hard – that’s two tough fights now in three days but the job is only half done now, I’m fully focused to go the full way.”
Last into the ring for Ireland this afternoon was Kurt Walker who saw off a difficult challenge from Samuel Kistohurry of France in his men’s bantamweight quarter-final. The Frenchman came out all guns blazing in the opening round, pushing Walker on to the back foot and dictating the pace of the early exchanges. A quick switch in style from Walker though saw him take control of the bout and he showcased his depth and strength to drive home to a unanimous decision victory.
“It feels brilliant,” he reflected afterwards. “It’s probably the first ever time I’ve fought in that style : he was too fit to keep off and he would have caught me on the back foot so I had to fight his style which I’ve never really done, so I’m just glad I tried it and won myself a medal. That’s two tough fights now, but I’m happy, I’m improving every time. Our team is flying at the moment so it’s brilliant.”
Kellie Harrington will take to the ring at 5pm Irish time this evening where she faces off against Irma Testa of Italy in the women’s lightweight quarter-final, while Aoife O’Rourke faces off against GB’s Lauren Price in the women’s middleweight quarter-final at 5.45pm (Irish time).
Women’s Featherweight (57kg)
Michaela Walsh (IRL) wins on a 4-1 split decision: 30-27, 27-30, 28-29, 28-29, 28-29.
Women’s Welterweight (69kg)
Grainne Walsh (IRL) wins on unanimous decision: 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27.
Men’s Bantamweight (56kg)
Kurt Walker (IRL) wins on unanimous decision: 28-29, 27-30, 28-29, 28-29, 27-30