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Amy Broadhurst and Lisa O’Rourke guaranteed at least bronze medals at World championships


Amy Broadhurst

Amy Broadhurst

Amy Broadhurst

Ireland is celebrating on the double after Amy Broadhurst and Lisa O’Rourke guaranteed themselves bronze medals at the World amateur boxing championships in Istanbul.

While Broadhurst has been viewed as a potential medallist for years, O’Rourke – who celebrated her 20th birthday on the day she won her last-16 bout – has emerged as the unsung Irish hero.

The younger sister of Tokyo Olympian Aoife, Lisa has hit an amazing streak of form this year. She was crowned European U-22 champion in spring, but that achievement pales into insignificance compared to securing a podium place at her debut World championships.

The pair will now bid to upgrade their awards to silver in the light welterweight and light middleweight semi-finals later this week.

But regardless of how they fare they are now entitled to additional funding from Sport Ireland though they do both face a dilemma going forward because as things stand neither of their weight divisions is included in the Olympic programme for Paris.

There was no joy, however, for Ireland’s two other quarter-finalists Carly McNaul (52kg) and Michaela Walsh (57kg). Both were beaten on unanimous 5-0 decisions.

For Dundalk southpaw Amy Broadhurst it was a case of fifth time lucky. A bronze medallist in the lightweight division at the 2019 European championships, the 25-year-old had lost at the quarter final stage of four previous World championships.

The 19-time Irish champion had sparred with Katie Taylor in the United States prior to her World title fight in Madison Square Garden, and she has looked one of the class acts in Istanbul.

Serbian Jelena Janicijevic was no pushover and constantly targeted Broadhurst’s body with a left upper cut. But the Irish fighter was landing the more telling punches and crucially all five judges scored the first round 10-9 in her favour.

Ultimately the pressure told in the second round with Janicijevic forced to take a standing count. Three of the judges scored the round 10-8 in favour of Broadhurst which effectively decided the bout.

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Broadhurst stayed out of harm’s way in the third but as soon as the final bell sounded, she raised her hand in triumph. After leaving the ring she was embraced by family members in the audience. The decisive nature of her win was reflected in the scorecards (30-26, 30-27, 30-26, 30-27, 30-25).

Lisa O’Rourke showed no signs of nerves in the biggest fight of her career against Armenia’s Ani Hovsepyan. She dominated the fight using her deft footwork to avoid her opponent once she delivered her own punches.

O’Rourke, who plays Gaelic football with Roscommon and boxes out of the Olympic club in Galway never looked in trouble as her fitness levels ensured she was able to stay out of her opponent’s range throughout the nine minutes but still able to deliver a succession of scoring shots.

She was ahead on four of the judges’ cards at the end of round one and she maintained that advantage all the way through to secure her place in the last four on scorecards of 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 29-29, 29-28.

Broadhurst and O’Rourke join Katie Taylor and Kellie Harrington as the Irish female fighters to have won medals at the World championships.

Taylor won five gold medals and a bronze while current Olympic champion Harrington – who was ruled out of Istanbul because of injury - previously won a gold and a silver medal.

As well as being guaranteed bronze medals the Irish pair will also win a minimum of $25,000 in prize money. The gold medallists will each receive $100,000 and the silver medallists $50,000.

Looking ahead to the Paris Games they both face a huge dilemma. Broadhurst, who will represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham later this summer, could revert to lightweight for Paris but that would mean challenging Kellie Harrington.

Alternatively, she could move up to the 66kg welterweight division. The choices facing O’Rourke are no less stark. She could try and make the 66kg division for Paris – the alternative is moving to middleweight at 75kg where she would have to challenge her older sister.

However, there is so much uncertainty about the boxing tournament at the Paris Olympics that the weights could yet be changed if boxing is retained for the 2024 Games.

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