Wednesday 21 August 2019

Walsh shocks world champ to guarantee bronze medal

Jumping for joy: Michaela Walsh celebrates beating Germany’s Ornella Warner in the featherweight quarter-final. Photo: PA
Jumping for joy: Michaela Walsh celebrates beating Germany’s Ornella Warner in the featherweight quarter-final. Photo: PA

Bernard O'Neill

Germany's world champion Ornella Wahner paid the price for stealing Michaela Walsh's dream seven years ago at the European Games in Minsk yesterday.

Walsh beat the Dresden feather on a 4-1 split decision to guarantee herself at least a bronze medal.

World lightweight champion and Irish captain Kellie Harrington, Grainne Walsh and Kurt Walker also won yesterday to join Michaela Walsh, Michael Nevin and Regan Buckley in tomorrow's semi-finals.

Wahner, who had former Irish coach Eddie Bolger in her corner, was aggressive throughout the three rounder, but Belfast native Walsh picked off more than enough quality shots to advance.

The current EU champion reckons she should have won unanimously and has been targeting Wahner since the German topped the 57kg podium at the World Elites in 2018 in New Delhi.

"Since she won gold in my weight my eyes have been on her. I've been waiting to fight her for a long time. I actually boxed her in the semi-finals of the (2012) World Youth Championships," she said.

"She beat me by one point (18-17). She stole my dream of becoming a youth world champion. I stuck to the game plan and I'm into the next phase. The job's not done yet."

Offaly welterweight Grainne Walsh admitted she had to dig deep to see off Finland's current European Elite champion Elina Gustafsson, the No 2 seed, in the Belarusian capital.

"This is what dreams are made of. I'm actually a bit emotional. It's a great achievement and I'm delighted with myself. I felt my technique and speed would be enough to beat her and I had to bite down hard," she said.

Meanwhile, Antrim bantam Walker recorded his second straight win over France's Samuel Kistohurry to make the last four.

He'll now face England's Peter McGrail for a place in the final tomorrow, in a repeat of the 2018 EU decider which Walker won on a 3-2 split in Spain last November.

Harrington chalked up a third successive decision over Italy's Irma Testa to set up a semi-final clash with Sweden's Agnes Alexiusson, but Aoife O'Rourke dropped a unanimous verdict to Welsh middleweight Lauren Price last night.

"The first one is always hard. Irma is a class boxer, she's very technical, credit to Irma. I've been a long time waiting and it is a bit nerve-wracking. Some of the team have had three fights and I'm only getting going," said Harrington.

Today is a rest day for the boxers. All semi-finals will be decided tomorrow, with the finals pencilled in for Saturday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday formally suspended the International Boxing Association from having any involvement with Tokyo 2020 or the qualifiers for the 32nd Olympiad.

However, they also unveiled the road map for the Tokyo 2020 Games, with the qualifiers to go through Africa, Americas, Asia/Oceania and Europe.

The European qualifiers will be hosted in London in February/March. One final world qualifier will be held in Japan next May.

Irish Independent

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