Katie Taylor qualified for her second successive Olympics and secured at least a second bronze medal for Ireland at the AIBA World Women’s Elite Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan today. Team Ireland now have 7 boxers qualified for the upcoming Rio Olympic Games which is a record total from when the current qualification system was first introduced for Barcelona in 1992.
Taylor beat Mexico’s Victoria Torres in a fiery 60kg quarter-final this afternoon to book her ticket into her sixth successive World Elite semi-final since New Delhi 2006.
The win ensures that Ireland will be taking home at least two bronze medals from Central Asia, as earlier today Kellie Harrington blasted her way into the last-four at the expense of Kazakhstan.
A top four finish is enough to secure Rio 2016 qualification in the three women’s Olympic weights of flyweight, lightweight and middleweight.
Taylor is also aiming for her sixth successive World Elite lightweight title in Astana.
The durable Torres was clearly up for the battle today and that’s exactly what she got from the Olympic champion. Punches were flying in from all angles, but the Bray woman, whilst soaking up a few body shots, repeatedly got the better of the big exchanges.
The London 2012 champion had a particularly good spell mid-way through the second after catching her opponent with flashing left hooks whilst displaying excellent footwork to get out of the way of any return fire.
Torres was still up for it – and Taylor happy to oblige her – in the third but the fire was going out of her work toward the end of the frame, leaving Taylor to take the round and the final stanza en route to the 40-36,40-36,40-36 decision that confirmed her as a two-time Irish Olympian.
With a Rio ticket already secured, Taylor will meet France Estelle Mosselly in the semi-finals on Thursday two wins away from becoming the first woman in the history of the sport to claim six World titles on the bounce.
Mosselly beat Azerbaijan’s Yana Alexseevna today. The Azeri, who beat Taylor at the European Olympic qualifiers in Turkey last month, lost to Taylor in the 2014 World Elite final and the 2015 European Games.
Earlier, Harrington guaranteed Ireland a first bronze after beating Kazakhstan’s Zarina Tsoloyeva in the light-welter quarter-final.
Harrington, like Taylor, took a 40-36 decision across the board. She meets Canada’s Sara Kali on Thursday looking to upgrade to at least silver.
“Absolutely over the moon, words can’t describe it, ” said the clearly emotional Dubliner after becoming the only Irish female boxer besides Taylor to medal at this level.
“When I was coming back to the corner the two of them (Irish coaches Zaur Antia and Eddie Bolger) were saying you need to work,” Harrington told the Irish Times. “You need to work. I felt in control but she didn’t stop coming. It was a tough fight.
“Each time I went back they reminded me of how good I was just in case.You know in your head it’s very easy when you are in there to think ‘oh I’ve gone behind now’. When you have good coaches in your corner saying you’re great that will keep you fighting harder.”
Meantime, Offaly’s Grainne Walsh had to settle for a top eight finish after she suffered a nose injury and her welterweight quarter-final with Kazakhstan’s Valentina Khalzova was stopped in the second round with the home boxer ahead 10-9 on all three cards from the first.
A brave display from Walsh and a fantastic performance to reach the quarter-finals on her World Elite debut.
Taylor, Paddy Barnes, Brendan Irvine, Michael Conlan, David Oliver Joyce, Steven Donnelly and Joe Ward have now qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Tomorrow is a rest day in Astana. The fireworks resume Thursday.
AIBA World Women’s Championships Astana, Kazakhstan
May 19th (Last 64)
51kg Ceire Smith (Ireland) lost to Ingrit Valencia (Colombia) 0-2
May 20th (Last 32)
54kg Dervla Duffy (Ireland) lost to Diletta Cipallane (Italy) 0-3
57kg Moira McElligot (Ireland) lost to Sati Burcu (Turkey) 1-2
64kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) beat Austeja Auciute (Lithuania) 3-0
75kg Christina Desmond (Ireland) lost to Khadija Mardi (Morocco) 0-3
May 21st (Last 32)
48kg Donna Barr (Ireland) lost to Kim Klavel (Canada) 0-3
60kg Katie Taylor (Ireland) beat Agnes Alexiusson (Sweden) 3-0
May 22nd (Last 16)
69kg Grainne Walsh (Ireland) beat Hanna Solecka (Poland) 3-0
May 23rd (last 16)
60kg Katie Taylor (Ireland) beat Dayana Sanchez (Argentina) 3-0
64kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) beat Cindy Rogge (Germany) 3-0
May 24th Q/Finals
64kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) beat Zarina Tsoloyeva (Kazakhstan) 3-0
60kg Katie Taylor (Ireland) beat Victoria Torres (Mexico) 3-0
69kg Grainne Walsh (Ireland) lost to Valentina Khalzova (Kazakhstan) TKOI2
May 26th S/Finals
60kg Katie Taylor (Ireland) v Estelle Mosselly (France)
64kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) v Sara Kali (Canada)
48kg Donna Barr (Twin Towns)
51kg Ceire Smith (Cavan)
54kg Dervla Duffy (Mulhuddart)
57kg Moira McElligot (St Michael’s Athy)
60kg Katie Taylor (Bray) (Bronze, at least)
64kg Kellie Harrington (Glasnevin) (Bronze, at least)
69kg Grainne Walsh (Sparticus)
75kg Christina Desmond (Fr Horgan’s)
Team manager: Anna Moore
Coaches: Zaur Antia, Eddie Bolger, Gerry Storey, Pat McDonagh