Hero’s welcome for newly-qualified Paris 2024 boxers.

The 2nd Olympic World Qualifier team return home from Bangkok this morning, and brought with them four more tickets to Paris 2024.

54kg Jennifer Lehane qualified following a 5-0 win over Hungary’s Hannah Lakotar. 66kg Grainne Walsh was similarly decisive in her victory over Armenia’s Ani Hovesepyan. 50kg Daina Moorehouse assured herself of a place on the plane with a 4-1 decision over Bulgaria’s Zlatislava Genadieva Chukanova – and 71kg Aidan Walsh, a bronze medalist in Tokyo, becomes a double Olympian with his UD victory over Puerto Rico’s Angel Gabriel Llanos Perez.

92+kg Martin McDonagh was, for the second time, a hair’s breadth from qualification. He contested against 2021 World silver medalist, Davit Chaloyan of Armenia. The first round went to Martin on a split, and the 3-2 split decision is testament to Martin’s performance.

High Performance Director, Tricia Heberle says “I think the decisions we made around the athletes that could qualify in this sort of team size were absolutely correct and I feel there’s no defence warranted of the decisions or the processes that were taken. This is just such a fantastic thing for Irish boxing but also a fantastic achievement for Irish sport. We want to be part of history, we want to create new records and all of these athletes involved in this programme feel that they want to leave a legacy.”

Head Coach, Zauri Antia, offers his congratulations to clubs and club coaches of all qualified boxers ” I am very happy and I would like to say congratulations to every club coach – thank you for your big support. Of course, they did huge work with our boxers. Now is the final moment; we are to unite with club coaches. High Performance coaches and club coaches should work for boxers benefit. And of course families are very important, how they support boxers.”

Those congratulations are echoed by High Performance Coach, Damian Kennedy “I want to offer my congratulations to all the clubs that’s involved with the athletes that just received Olympic status. It’s a huge day for Irish boxing; it’s a huge day for all of the clubs. It’s a huge day for the club coaches and families.”

All of the 2nd Olympic World Qualifier team are on a week’s rest, and will return to High Performance training on June 11th, at which point there will be 46 days until the first bell at the North Paris Arena.

Zauri says “Now we know what areas to work. In those areas in which they achieved best (in Bangkok), we will improve those sides….we will work more individually. Those boxers who’ve just they are ready for the Olympic Games, because they have had all of this cycle of preparation. They need now a nice rest, and start preparation. The other boxers (already qualified for Paris), they will have quality sparring. Individual analysis will be very important for us.”

High Performance Director, Tricia Heberle says “Now the challenge is that we got to the Olympics and we build on qualification, because we’re not going to Paris to participate – we’re going to Paris to be in the medal rounds and on the podium”

The maximum team size any federation may qualify for an Olympic Games is 13. Six Team Ireland boxers have already qualified: reigning Olympic lightweight champ, Kellie Harrington, and now double Olympians 57kg Michaela Walsh and Aoife O’Rourke. 57kg Jude Gallagher booked his ticket to Paris at the 1st Olympic World Qualifier. 63.5kg Dean Clancy and heavyweight, Jack Marley, qualified at the 2023 European Games.

51kg Sean Mari showed humbling courage in his Last 16 Bout against Malaysia’s Ariffin Muhammad Abdul Qaiyum. Sean sustained an injury to his backhand in his opening bout win over Pakistan, but chose to continue training throughout the week, and step between the ropes. He contested with great valour, but was withdrawn on medical grounds before the 3rd round by his corner, Damian Kennedy and James Doyle. 

80kg Kelyn Cassidy contested his 3rd bout of the tournament against Spain’s Gazimagomed Schami Jalidov Gafurova – and feel foul of the dreaded 3-2 split decision. Kelyn, who recorded earlier statement wins over Germany and India en route to the Last 16, says “Gave it my all but came up short. Paris Olympic dream over. If you had of said 3 years ago after making it on HP that I would end up where I did, I would have laughed at you. It was a great honour to where the Irish signet on my chest with pride. Also to have the backing of Waterford behind me was something I’ll never forget. I hope you all enjoyed the journey and hopefully I brought good energy buzz back home”.