Tuesday 17 September 2019

New European champ O'Rourke hungry for more ahead of Tokyo decider

Aoife O’Rourke and Amy Broadhurst and their Irish team-mates arrive home from the Euro Elites
Aoife O’Rourke and Amy Broadhurst and their Irish team-mates arrive home from the Euro Elites

Bernard O'Neill

London's calling for newly crowned European Elite champion Aoife O'Rourke who has set herself a goal of qualifying for Tokyo 2020 in the English capital next March.

But if she picks up another major medal along the way at the 11th World Women's Elites in Siberia next month she'll take that as well.

The Roscommon middleweight became the only Irish female boxer besides Katie Taylor to claim a European Elite title.

She won in Madrid on Saturday after coming from behind to beat Polish southpaw Elziebta Wojcik on a unanimous decision.

Four of the five judges had the 2014 Olympic Youth and World Youth champion ahead at the end of the first round, but O'Rourke put in a huge second frame and took the third on all five cards to top the 75kg podium. "After the first round, I just went for it. In the last two, I just had to pick it up. It hasn't sunk in yet that I won, I don't know when it will," the Castlerea BC champion said.

"To think that I'm the only other (Irish) girl along with Katie Taylor to win European gold, it's unbelievable.

"It was a tough final. She [Wojcik] is a good girl, very strong. I tried to keep her on the back foot when I could," she admitted.

O'Rourke's title and bronze for Dundalk lightweight Amy Broadhurst saw the four-strong Irish squad, which also included Ceire Smith and Christina Desmond, finish in fourth spot in the medals table at the 31-nation tournament, behind Russia, Italy and Turkey. Smith, Desmond and Broadhurst were only beaten by eventual champions in the last 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals in the Spanish capital.

"It's amazing to think that we only had four on the squad and we took two medals and three of the girls were only beaten by gold medallists in fights which could have gone either way," said Irish team manager JP Kinsella.

Meanwhile, Irish boxing has received another boost with the announcement that the final world qualifier for Tokyo 2020 will be hosted in Paris.

The European qualifiers for Tokyo are scheduled to begin at a venue to be confirmed in London on March 13. London and Paris are about as close as Irish boxing will ever get to home advantage for the qualifiers.

Elsewhere, Luke Campbell's brave bid to topple Vasyl Lomachenko ended in heartache as the Ukrainian retained his WBA and WBO lightweight titles and scooped the vacant WBC crown with a clinical performance.

Irish Independent

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