Friday got off to a great start for Team Ireland when boxer Michaela Walsh booked her place in the final of the Women’s Featherweight -57kg beating Russian boxer Daria Abramova in the semi-finals guaranteeing her silver. This was not long after badminton secured a guaranteed medal with a 2-1 win by Chloe and Sam Magee in the Mixed Doubles.
Grainne Walsh wins the bronze medal in the Women’s Welterweight -69kg. She was denied the opportunity to upgrade her medal colour on a 3-2 split decision by her Polish opponent.
In the velodrome the track cyclists were also in action with Robyn Stewart finishing second in the repechage of the Women’s Keirin today, coming close to passing GB’s Katy Marchant for the one place on offer in the semi-final. The Women’s Team Pursuit clocked a time of 4.30.118, over a second faster than their qualifying ride to finish 5th overall in a new team combination.
This evenings schedule will see boxers Kellie Harrington, Regan Buckley, Kurt Walker and Michael Nevin looking to upgrade their bronze medals in the semi-finals. In the velodrome Orla Walsh and Marc Potts will be competing in their respective Scratch Race and Points Race.
FULL ROUND UP BY SPORT
Chloe and Sam Magee have secured a semi-final spot and at least a bronze medal in the Mixed Doubles at the Falcon Club in Minsk this morning, Ireland’s seventh medal of the European Games so far.
The dynamic duo, who won Bronze at the 2015 European Games, outclassed the Netherlands pair of Robin Tabeling and Selena Piek over two sets, 19-21 and 17-21, to progress to the semi-final where they will face Great Britain’s Gabrielle and Chris Adcock for a place in the final.
The Magees started strong and kept their composure throughout both sets of today’s match, with Tabeling and Piek leading on only one occasion. There were joyous scenes as the Nederlands went wide to give Ireland their final point and the win.
Reacting Chloe commented “Amazing, we really wanted that this week but we’ve had such a tough draw and now to be standing here knowing that we are going home with a medal is the most incredible feeling that you can imagine.”
On a second European Games medal she said “We’ve battled through so many tough games, but I think right now it feels incredible. I think the first one we won, will always stand to us, but this one feels amazing.”
On tomorrow’s match against European number one’s and gold medal favourites Sam commented “I think it’s an exciting match, we’ve played them a few times, the best results we’ve had was taking one set off them, so we have to take that into consideration.
“Tomorrow we’ve no pressure, they’ve the pressure, they’re top seeds, they’re world class players, they’re expected to win, so we have to use the other side of the coin when we’re coming in, free, no pressure and try and deliver the same quality of performance as we did today.”
Michaela Walsh moved one step closer to a gold medal at the European Games in Minsk this afternoon as she won out on a 3-2 split decision in her semi-final clash against Russia’s Daria Abramova.
Today’s bout was certainly a case of revenge is sweet for Walsh though, having lost out to the Russian last year on a 3-2 split decision in the semi-finals of the European Championships. Indeed, much like last June’s bout, another extremely close battle followed, with Walsh firing strong in the opening round to take the upper hand early on.
Abramova came back hard in the second round though, and delivered some powerful blows to test Walsh at every turn. The third round was just as close, and despite a late rally from Abramova, a tactically strong Walsh held her composure to win out 3-2.
“I feel amazing, it’s great to get the win,” Walsh said afterwards. “I boxed that girl last year in the European semi final and it was a close fight so it was great to get one back. Going in, I had the perfect game plan and I tried my best to stick with it. Obviously when you’re fighting opposition so high, it can go either way, but I feel I performed really well.
“As Grainne said the other day, this is what dreams are made of. I’m one fight away from gold now. So I just have to refocus…. The job’s not done.”
Speaking of Grainne Walsh, the Tullamore based boxer was in also in semi-final this afternoon but came out the wrong side of a 3-2 split decision result in her bout against Poland’s Karolina Koszewska.
A super opening round from Walsh saw her slip inside the long reaching stretch of the much taller Polish boxer, getting some solid body hits and moving out of Koszewska’s range. Koszewska settled more in the second round though, and her length and size, coupled with a strong backhand, caused Walsh periods of trouble to tee up a cagey finish.
A closely fought third round saw Walsh take back some of the control, and dictated the match for solid spells. It wasn’t enough though as Koszewska was crowned winner on a 3-2 split decision in the end. Walsh bows out of the Games with a bronze medal for Team Ireland.
“A tough fight, but they’ve all been tough fights to be honest with you,” Grainne said afterwards. “I just fell short, I found her range awkward, but I did what I could and I felt it could have went either way. I’m glad I’m on the podium and I’ll dust myself off – it’s a learning curve, it’s never a loss, it’s a learning.”
The Women’s Team Pursuit knocked one second off their qualifying time to finish fifth with 4.30.118 in the 4km test against the clock. The event is a contest whereby four riders compete as a team in a race against the clock, rotating the person at the front throughout.
Yesterday in qualifying the quartet of Orla Walsh, Mia Griffin, Lydia Gurley and Shannon McCurley were competing for the first time together, and today were happy to go one second quicker in the second fastest time clocked by an Irish Team Pursuit. They started hard and by the halfway mark were already 2 seconds faster than their qualifying time, catching the Ukrainian team who started on the opposite side of the track.
Griffin was pleased with their performance after the round, “We went into the qualifying thinking we had 3-4 seconds on Ukraine in the qualifying, and we thought maybe we would get in their slip stream, get a second or two on what we did yesterday, and we went a second faster.”
In the Women’s Keirin Robyn Stewart finished second in her repechage, after missing out on a direct route to the semi-final in the opening heat, the winner Katy Marchant from GB took the one place on offer, with Stewart pushing hard in the final 100m.
The Keirin is a sprint event where a derny, or motor pacer, sets the pace for the riders who line behind before the derny peels off and leaves the riders to sprint the remaining laps.
This evening will see more action in the velodrome with Orla Walsh competing in the Women’s Scratch Race and Marc Potts taking on the Men’s Points Race.
DAY EIGHT RESULTS
Women’s Featherweight 57kg
Michaela Walsh (IRL) wins over Daria Abramova (RUS) on 3:2 split decision – 29-28, 28-29, 28-29, 29-28, 29-28
Women’s Welterweight 69kg
Grainne Walsh (IRL) loses to Karolina Koszewska (POL) on a 3-2 split decision – 29-28, 27-30, 29-28, 27-30, 30-27
Robin Tabeling & Selena Piek (Netherlands) v Chloe Magee & Sam Magee (Ireland) W 19-21, 17-21
Women’s Keirin Heats: Robyn Stewart 4th, moves to Repechages.
Women’s Team Pursuit: Orla Walsh, Mia Griffin, Lydia Gurley, Shannon McCurley finish 5th 4.30.118.
DAY EIGHT EVENING SCHEDULE
17:00 Boxing Kellie Harrington (IRL) v Agnes Alexiusson (SWE), Women’s Lightweight 60kg
18:00 Cycling Orla Walsh Women’s Scratch Race
18:15 Boxing Regan Buckley (IRL) v Artur Hovhannisyan (ARM), Men’s Light Flyweight 49kg
18:30 Boxing Peter McGrail (GBR) v Kurt Walker (IRL), Men’s Bantamweight 56kg
18:35 Cycling March Potts Men’s Points Race
19:45 Boxing Salvatore Cavallaro (ITA) v Michael Nevin (IRL), Men’s Middleweight 75kg