And the new…… Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year for 2018 is Kellie Harrington.
The current AIBA World Elite champion was presented with the overall award at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin today.
The Dubliner, a light welter silver medallists at the 2016 World Elite Championship,became the first Irish boxer to claim two World medals at two different limits after winning 60kg gold in New Delhi last month.
The Irish champion won five fights in eights days en route to the top of the podium.
Ireland (6), Canada (2), Russia (1) and France (1) are the only nations to hold the lightweight title.
Along with her former Irish team-mate Katie Taylor, Sanita Puspure in rowing and cycling’s Katie-Georg Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal, Harrington is the fourth monthly winner in 2018 to have been crowned a world champion.
Harrington beat opponents from New Zealand, India, Canada and Kazakhstan, before getting the better of Thailand’s Sudaporn Seesondee on a split decision in the final.
“Thirteen years of blood, sweat and tears. It’s great to finally get what I worked my ass off for” said Harrington after her win in India, a victory which saw her become the third Irish boxer after Taylor and Michael Conlan to win gold at this level.
“It’s great to see the kids around the community where I’m from coming up to me and saying, “Kellie, can I get into boxing,” said Harrington at today’s awards.
“I’m directing them in the way of all of some of the local boxing clubs. I’ve been speaking to some of the boxing coaches and they’re saying that there’s more females in the boxing clubs than there is men.
“They’re saying that’s because of you Kellie, I still can’t believe it, wow. It’s been a great year.”
Fergal Carruth, CEO of the IABA, and Noel Burke, Harrington’s coach at the St Mary’s BC, accompanied the World No.1 at the awards ceremony.
Olympic silver medallist Annalise Murphy, who was The Irish Times Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year two years ago, presented Harrington with the award this afternoon.
Harrington, who boxes out of the St Mary’s BC, also claimed European Elite bronze and multi-nation silver this year as well as retaining her Irish title at Dublin’s National Stadium last February.
The overall award was chosen from a list of monthly winners (see below).
Sports Editor of The Irish Times Malachy Logan described 2018 as a momentous year for Irish sportswomen. “World and European championships medals have become almost the norm across a huge variety of sports at these Awards while, at home, our GAA, soccer and horse racing stars are equally celebrated for their enormous contribution to women’s sport. None of this would have been possible without the skill, dedication and training of the women we are honouring today as well as the unswerving support of their coaches, families and partners. It is only fitting, therefore, that we are today saluting those achievements.”
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross said: “2018 has been another year of success for Ireland’s sportswomen, who have given us many wonderful memories and produced some spectacular performances which have captured the imagination of the country. Their continued success serves to inspire our children and young people and to enhance Ireland’s reputation abroad. I would like to acknowledge Sport Ireland and the Irish Times for staging these awards which recognise the incredible contribution of Irish women in sport. I would like to congratulate all of today’s winners and also pay tribute to their families and all of the coaches and support teams who have helped them to reach the highest levels of sport.”
The Chairman of Sport Ireland Kieran Mulvey said: “In sporting terms 2018 has been a spectacular year. Sport has a unique ability to unite people of all backgrounds and we have had no shortage of sporting success to celebrate in the past twelve months. We are all united in our pride for the achievements of our athletes and teams on their success this year. The Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year awards is the perfect way to round-off an excellent year and a fitting way to celebrate our wonderful athletes. I congratulate each of the monthly award winners on their achievements and wish them well for the year ahead.”
(Images: Harrington at today’s awards and in action in World Elite final)
Irish Times/Sport Ireland Monthly Winners
December – Fiona McHale – Gaelic Football
January – Phil Healy – Athletics
February – Cora Staunton – Australian Rules
March – Katie Walsh – Horse Racing
April – Leona Maguire – Golf
May – Natalya Coyle – Pentathlo
June – Sarah Healy – Athletics
July – Ayeisha McFerran – Hockey
August – Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal – Cycling
September – Sanita Puspure (Rowing) and Sinead Aherne (Gaelic Football)
October – Katie Taylor (Boxing) and Rachael Blackmore (Horse Racing)
November – Kellie Harrington (Boxing)