There was big excitement in Tokyo this evening as Team Irelandboxer, Aidan Walsh, officially received his Olympic bronze medal for the Men’s Welter (63-69kg).
Having made his Olympic debut at this year’s Games, the Belfast boxer was thrilled to finish with a coveted Olympic medal: “When I walked into the club at eight years of age, seeing the Olympic signs, I always dreamt of being an Olympian… To every kid out there, just keep dreaming. Never ever stop dreaming. A few years ago, I was thinking of packing boxing in and I’m standing here now as an Olympic medallist, so never, ever give up, never stop dreaming.”
Elsewhere, there was a super start to Ireland’s Show Jumping campaign today with all three Irish athletes jumping clear rounds inside the time allowed in the Individual Qualifier to claim their place in tomorrow’s Individual Final.
Over at the Olympic Stadium meanwhile, it was a 7th place finish in the Men’s 200m semi-finals for Leon Reid in a time of 20.54 - just 0.01 slower than his Season’s Best from this morning.
It was a 7th place finish in the Men’s 200m semi-finals for Leon Reid at the Olympic Stadium this evening, in a time of 20.54. With just two automatic qualifiers, and two time qualifiers, he would have needed a huge national record to progress to the final.
In his second race of the day, having qualified as a time qualifier from this morning’s heats, Reid lined up in lane 3 - with the former world champion, Ramil Guliyev of Turkey in the lane outside him. It was a blistering start for the Irishman, taking ground out of Guliyev in the first 50m, and he maintained that strong position until the halfway point. Hoping for his trademark strong finish, he just fell slightly off his competitors in the final 50m, his time just 0.01 slower than his Season’s Best from this morning.
“That was the plan, to pick up the first 50m a lot quicker, and kick off the bend but I didn’t quite have the kick. I had the first bit, not the second bit,” he reflected afterwards. “The time is decent enough, but obviously I want to go quicker. I want to be around PB shape, which I am, it just hasn’t come off today.”
Going from heats in the morning to a semi-final in the evening, Reid also spoke of the overwhelming support he’s received from Team Ireland supporters, saying “I had to turn my phone off when I got back to the hotel because everyone started waking up and traction picked up – it’s been amazing.”
There was big excitement this evening as Team Ireland boxer, Aidan Walsh, received his bronze medal for the Men’s Welter. Walsh, who had to withdraw from the semi-final on Sunday due to injury, was thrilled to have made it to the podium at his debut Games.
“It’s unbelievable. I just feel extremely lucky, extremely blessed, extremely grateful to be even standing here. It’s something that I always watched – Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, Hugh Russell, Jim McCourt and all the guys coming away with medals from the Olympic Games. It’s amazing – from Belfast, Belfast being such a small place, and to be part of such a small group. I’m lost for words, it’s something that just means so much to me. It’s incredible.
Looking back to the decision to withdraw from Sunday’s semi-final he continued, “To be honest, we tried everything we could to get into the ring. We waited until the last minute to try and get in there, and Bernard just said it was physically impossible to get in there. I wanted to – obviously every competitor wants to go right to the end - but it just wasn’t to be. I’m standing here with a medal and I’m so grateful, so lucky.
“To every kid out there, just keep dreaming. Never ever stop dreaming. When I walked into the club at eight years of age, seeing the Olympic signs, I always dreamt of being an Olympian. Anyone listening out there, no matter what it is – not even boxing or sport – dream as big as you can, don’t be afraid and never give up. A few years ago, I was thinking of packing boxing in and I’m standing here now as an Olympic medallist, so never, ever give up, never stop dreaming. Picture yourself doing it over and over again until you get it and just enjoy every minute of it.”
With his sister Michaela on hand every step of the way, he added: “The support my sister gives me is incredible and likewise, me to her. We’re a team. It’s unfortunate obviously that she didn’t come back with a medal but, at the end of the day, she’ll be sharing this medal with me. I would happily cut the ribbon in half, cut the medal in half and give it to her, because she deserves so much - likewise with a lot of people on that team, the whole team. I am one of the lucky ones at the minute and hopefully Kellie can go all the way now and win gold.”
There was a super start to Ireland’s Show Jumping campaign today with all three Irish athletes jumping clear rounds inside the time allowed in the Individual Qualifier to claim their places in tomorrow’s Individual Final. The top 30 combinations qualified out of the 73 starters, which consisted of 25 clears inside the time, four combinations with one time penalty and one pair with two-time faults.
Best of the Irish with the second fastest time of the night was Darragh Kenny and VDL Cartello. Kenny was the first of the Irish to take to the arena, and made little work of the tough track, finishing on a fast time of 82.01, seven seconds under the time allowed.
Speaking afterwards, he said: “My horse feels great, he jumped a super round. I am very happy with him. It is becoming tougher and tougher as the rounds go on, but we all went early and we all jumped great rounds.”
Finishing closely behind Kenny with the sixth fastest time of the night on 85.18 was Bertram Allen and Irish-bred Pacino Amiro (ISH). This is the young nine-year-old gelding’s first championships, and he put on a stellar performance showing his amazing capabilities.
“It was quite a bit for him to take in, but he took it in very well,” expressed Allen. “I am delighted and looking forward to tomorrow. It’s very eerie without the crowd. We’ve been here for over a week and the horses have been here for longer. We were in quarantine in Aachen a week before that, so all the horses are feeling fresh.”
Last to go of the Irish trio was Cian O’Connor and Kilkenny (ISH). O’Connor judged the timing to perfection as he crossed the line in 88.66 just inside the time allowed of 89 seconds. Kilkenny, another young nine-year-old gelding, was hitting the lights and there was no fear of him touching any of the poles including an expressive jump over the water fence.
Speaking after tonight’s qualifier, O’Connor talked us through the atmosphere for young horses like Kilkenny: “He really grew to this atmosphere, and it might be strange to talk about atmosphere when there are no people here but with the lights on and the spooky jumps, everything is new. It can press a young horse. He [Kilkenny] was excellent and I think he will get better and better each day. I can’t wait for it.”
Show Jumping Team Manager, Michael Blake, was delighted with the good start for Ireland and is looking forward to the competition ahead: “It couldn’t be better. We came here with high expectations so far, and the boys are delivering. We had a very early draw that was nail biting in ways, we didn’t get to see many people go in so we had a very solid plan and what we would do with each horse - a separate plan for all of them. Our horses look like they are very strong, and it is a very long week. I think they will keep their freshness.”
Action continues tomorrow in Equestrian Park from 11:00am (Irish time) with the Individual Final.
EVENING RESULTS DAY 11: AUGUST 3rd, 2021
Men’s 200m Semi-Final – Leon Reid, 7th in 20.54
Show Jumping Individual Qualifier – Darragh Kenny & VDL Cartello – Clear Round in 82.01 time, 2nd place (Qualified for Individual Final)
Show Jumping Individual Qualifier – Bertram Allen & Pacino Amiro (ISH)1 – Clear Round in 85.18 time, 6th place (Qualified for Individual Final)
Show Jumping Individual Qualifier – Cian O’Connor (ISH) 2 – Clear Round in 88.66 time, 25th place (Qualified for Individual Final)
1 Pacino Amiro (ISH) – 2012 gelding by Pacino (BWP) out of Carnone Dancing Queen (ISH) by NC Amiro (AES). Breeder: Simon Scott, Co. Donegal. Owner: Aiden McGrory.
2 Kilkenny (ISH) – 2012 gelding by Cardento (HOLST) out of MHS Pembrook Lady (ISH), by Guidam (SF) Breeder: Ita Brennan, Co Kilkenny. Owner: Susan Magnier.
DAY 12 SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES ARE IRISH TIME): August 4th, 2021
Schedule may be subject to change
23:52** Golf – Leona Maguire – Women’s Individual Stroke Play Round 1
02:47 Golf – Stephanie Meadow – Women’s Individual Stroke Play Round 1
07:00 Diving – Tanya Watson – Women’s 10m Platform Preliminary Round
11:00 Equestrian - Bertram Allen and Pacino Amiro, Darragh Kenny and VDL Cartello, Cian O’Connor and Kilkenny – Show Jumping Individual Final