European Championships: Irish women’s boxing team poised for medal rush in Budva

Olympic champion Kellie Harrington among those fighting for a guaranteed medal this week

Now here come the medals. Setting up what might well prove the most successful week in the history of Irish women’s boxing, Amy Broadhurst and Aoife O’Rourke have made their intention clear for yet more medal success on day three of the European Championships in Budva, Montenegro.

Broadhurst is on course to win a unique hat-trick of gold medals, the Dundalk fighter already having won the light-welterweight title at the World Championships in Istanbul in May, before adding the Commonwealth Games lightweight title in Birmingham in July.

In her opening light-welterweight bout, a non-Olympic category, the 25-year-old secured a unanimous win over her Turkish opponent on Sema Caliskan on Sunday, that result never in doubt, meaning Broadhurst is now just one more win away from a guaranteed podium place – at the very least.

Earlier in the afternoon session, O’Rourke began the defence of her European heavyweight title with a similarly decisive win over her Greek opponent Stavridon Vasiliki, and will fight her last-eight bout on Wednesday against Busra Isildar from Turkey, who received a bye to that stage.


It follows Saturday’s session where Kellie Harrington, a little more tried if not tested, advanced to the last eight of the lightweight contest.

Harrington secured a split-decision win over the young Turkish fighter Gizem Ozer, a European Under-22 silver medal winner from earlier this year, who certainly didn’t make it easy on the reigning Olympic champion.

Three of the five judges awarded the first round to Harrington, as did four after the second round, the Dublin fighter doing enough again in the third round to secure the split decision win that moves her into the quarter-final round on Wednesday against Britain’s Shona Whithall. A win there would ensure her a medal of some colour.

Budva is Harrington’s first championship since winning that Olympic gold in Tokyo 14 months ago; her first round win on Friday over Maiva Hamadouche from France was unanimous. She previously won European bronze, also in 2018. This win, her 98th amateur fight, extends her record to 80 wins, 17 losses, and one draw.

Harrington did win a tournament in Sofia in February, and looks well on course to add a first European gold to her Olympic title from last year, and World crown from 2018.

Belfast fighter Carly McNaul also secured a unanimous win over Romania’s Ana Alexandra Gheorghe in her flyweight bout. Next up for McNaul is a medal bout against Olena Savchuk in Tuesday afternoon’s 52kg quarter-finals.

Michaela Walsh had a lot more to handle in her featherweight bout, a storming round just enough the see her past her French opponent Amina Zidani.

Walsh found enough reserves in the final round to convince all five judges, winning on a split decision. She will next face Romania’s Claudia Nechita on Tuesday afternoon. Kaci Rock also advanced to the 66kg quarter-final on a bye and is also one win away from a medal.

At 54kg, Niamh Fay, the reigning European Under-22 champion, made her exit on Sunday after losing her last-16 contest to the Ukrainian women Anastasiia Kovalchuk.

At 70kg, Christina Desmond is also one win away from a podium place, following her last-16 win over Malovana Maryna from Ukraine.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics