Irish captain Aaron McKenna believes his gold medal win at the Nikolay Pavlyukov Memorial in Russia is a career best.
The Old School BC ace beat Russia’s Rashid Yangazie in the 64kg final at the weekend to secure the light-welter title.
Yangazie, who edged out Limerick’s World Junior silver medallist Paddy Donovan earlier in the tournament, is the Russian No. 1 at this level.
But it was McKenna’s victory over Bilobek Mirzarakhimov in the semi-finals that was the stand out performance of the tournament.
The Uzbek, the current World Junior champion, hadn’t been beaten at any level in World or Asian competition prior to his meeting with the Irish skipper.
McKenna, Gabriel Dossen (silver) and Eamer Coughlan (bronze) finished in podium positions in Anapa.
Ireland was using a six-strong squad which also included Tommy Hyde and Jason Harty in Russia.
“It’s a very tough tournament to win,” McKenna told today’s Irish News.
“Every fight you win, your confidence grows – that was four fights in four days so it was very tough, having to weigh in every morning as well.
“But this is the best thing I’ve won yet in my career. I feel like I’m improving physically, and I’m still learning all the time.”
Team Ireland arrived home last night from Russia.
Pavlyukov Youth Memorial Anapa, Russia March 15th/20th
60kg Eamer Coughlan (Riverstown) (Bronze)
64kg Patrick Donovan (OLOL)
64kg Aaron McKenna (Old School) (Gold)
69kg Gabriel Dossen (Olympic) (Silver)
69kg Jason Harty (Rathkeale)
75kg Tommy Hyde (Setanta)
Team manager: Robbie Redmond
Coaches: Billy McClean and Fergal McKenna
R&J: Martin O’Neill