Leitrim featherweight Dearbhla Rooney secured her second major medal of the year after finishing in a podium position at the Olympic Youths in Buenos Aires last night.
The Manorhamiliton feather, who claimed European Youth silver in Italy in April, comprehensively beat New Zealand’s Te Shelford-Edmonds on a unanimous decision in the box-off for bronze.
“I’m absolutely over the moon,” said the 17-year-old, “if you told me this time last year, I’d never have believed I’d be on the Youth Olympic team, let alone be coming away with a bronze medal.”
Rooney, who boxes out of the Sean McDermott BC, lost in the semi-final stage to Thailand’s eventual gold medalist,Panpatchara Somnuek, after winning her quarter-final.
“I was heartbroken yesterday after losing in the semis to Thailand, but she’s a very strong girl, she stopped the Slovakian three-time European Champion in the bout before me. It is a positive I’m up there with the best in the world it just made me come back and win the bronze, added Rooney who stepped into a ring six years ago.
“I started when I was eleven, my brother was going in to do a bit of boxing, so I said I’d go along with him. I picked it up fast and enjoyed the training. I won my first all-Ireland that year.”
“Thanks so much to everyone who supported me, there’s so many people, my club coaches, my sponsors, and everyone as well.”
Rooney’s family were at ringside in Buenos Aires.
“I haven’t really been talking to them yet, but I could hear them definitely, the loudest ones here. Lauren [Kelly] is brilliant at supporting, and so is the rest of the Irish team, a big thank you to them as well,” said the fourth Irish boxer since 2010 to medal at the Olympic Youths.
Earlier yesterday, Sligo’s Dean Clancy, who also won silver at the European Youths in Italy in April, finished fourth after dropping a unanimous decision to Brazil’s Luiz Gabriel Chalot de Oliviera in the box-off for flyweight bronze.
“It didn’t go my way today, but it is what it is, he got the better of me today,” admitted 16-year-old Clancy.“Every fight is valuable experience and he’s two years older than me. He’s the world bronze medallist and I tried my best, but he’s two years ahead of me.”
In between the rounds coach Dmitri Dmitruk offered advice to the Ballinacarrow BC man: “He just wanted me to establish my jab, and find my range, and try not to rush him. But I got caught up, he’s very good. He’s very sharp.”
“To get here is a massive achievement, the whole experience is amazing, this is my first tournament every being with multiple sports. I’m sharing my room with a karate person and a golfer – I was never around that before. I learnt a lot – valuable experience, it is what it is. It will push me on to be better, I’m still youth next year.”
Lauren Kelly (St Brigid’s BC, Edenderry) – who won bronze at the European Youths this year, also represented Irish boxing at the Games.
Team Ireland, which competed in nine sports in Buenos Aires, are due to arrive home at 9.50am this Sunday morning via Dublin Airport via Heathrow (Terminal 1)