Kellie Harrington finds love of boxing again as she edges closer to Olympic qualification

Five of the six competing Irish boxers at the European Games through to a quarterfinal

A relaxed Kellie Harrington has found her love of boxing again. The Olympic champion, who took a step closer to qualifying for the Olympic Games next year, said she had lost the enjoyment but has found it again in Krakow.

It helped that Harrington, the Tokyo 2020 gold medallist, comfortably won her fight by unanimous decision at the European Games in Poland. The Dubliner beat Armenian Elida Kocharyan in the round of 16, which puts her into the last eight of the lightweight competition. One more win ensures Harrington a place in the Paris Olympics next summer.

“I’m here to enjoy myself to be honest because I haven’t really being enjoying it very well and I’ve just got the hunger back and feeling the joy and feeling the love again,” said Harrington.

“I didn’t feel so comfortable to be honest. I was quite nervous going in. I’d seen her in the Europeans in Montenegro and I thought she was special and she is special. She is one to watch.


“It was a really good fight. I had the tactics spot on and so I’m happy enough to move forward to the next one.”

Harrington was drawn to fight in the first round of 32 and used that first bout to gain a little edge against Kocharyan.

“Some boxers love to get the bye. I love to get going from the start because you shake off the dust. Sometimes you just get better as you go on. I think it’s really great to get that dust off,” she said.

No Irish boxer has ever defended an Olympic title, including Katie Taylor who won in London 2012 but was beaten four years later in Rio 2016.

Amy Broadhurst is also through to the quarterfinals. She won her bout against Beatrise Rozentale at 66kg and made a statement. Her Latvian opponent was given three standing counts in the one-sided win as Broadhurst repeatedly landed her backhand left in the impressive outing.

Also through to the quarterfinals is Ireland’s Jennifer Lehane in the 54kg division. She defeated Antonia Giannakopoulou 5-0 to take her one more fight away from the Olympic ticket.

In the men’s 80kg event Kelyn Cassidy also put on a classy performance against Britain’s Jay Bevan. The southpaw dominated the bout and forced Bevan to a standing count in the first round, winning by unanimous decision. Another talent to look out for, four boxers qualify in his weight division meaning one more win and he secures a place in Paris next year.

In the 92kg division Jack Marley earned a 4-1 win over Greek boxer Vagkan Nanitzanian. Unlike the others in the lighter divisions, he is two fights from qualification and must make the final.

Seán Mari, the last Irish fighter in the ring on Monday night was defeated by Spain’s Molina Salvador. But it was a good day with five of the six competing Irish boxers making it through to a quarterfinal.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times