Team depart for pre: Olympic World Qualifier training camp.

The 7-strong team to contest the final boxing qualifier for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games has departed for a multi-nations training camp, in preparation for the 2nd Olympic World Qualifier in Bangkok.

Attending the camp in Hua Hin, Thailand, for Team Ireland are Daina Moorehouse (50kg), Jennifer Lehane (54kg), Grainne Walsh (66kg) Sean Mari (51kg), Aidan Walsh (71kg), Kelyn Cassidy (80kg), and Martin McDonagh (92+kg). They will be training alongside boxers from Germany, the USA, Cuba, Mongolia, GB, Norway and Belgium until May 21st.

The Paris Boxing Unit has confirmed that more boxers have entered the 2nd Olympic World Qualifier than its counterpart in Milan, to which 602 boxers were registered. As a result, boxing has been brought forward, to begin on May 24th. As with the 1st Olympic World Qualifier in March, boxers will contest to quota; meaning, they will cease to box at a qualification bout. There will be no semi-finals or finals, and no medals bestowed. In 4 of the weights Ireland is contesting in Bangkok, 4 Paris quota places are available. In Men’s 71kg, 5 quota places are available, and there are 3 in Men’s 80kg.

Preparations for this team have included a multi-nation training camp in Assisi, Italy, the 1st Olympic World Qualifier in Milan, a dual-nations training camp and international with Ukraine in Castlerea.

High Performance Director, Tricia Heberle, says “This is a highly focused team of exceptional athletes. Every boxer, having contested the 1st Olympic World qualifier, knows the task ahead of them. Their commitment to training and self-improvement has been strongly led by Head Coach Zauri Antia and ably supported by Damian Kennedy, Eoin Pluck, James Doyle and Lynne McEnery. The contribution of Club coaches also needs to be recognized, as does the vital role that coaches from the High Performance Paris Pool Coach programme have played. Without these coaches working cooperatively for the betterment of their athletes, we would not feel as well-prepared heading into such an important Olympic qualifier event.” Tricia adds “We have set a target of 8 qualifications for the Paris Olympic Games and with 6 of these already achieved at the 2023 European Games and 1st Olympic World Qualifier, we are on track.  It is not an easy task but key to achieving this is the world-class daily training environment at the Sport Ireland Institute that we are so fortunate to have.  The IABA High Performance Unit is the envy of many countries and without the continued support of Sport Ireland and the Institute, and use of the newly launched SII Environment Chamber, it would be difficult to prepare the athletes to the level required for international success.”

High Performance Head Coach, Zauri Antia, says “The competition in Bangkok will be tough. Boxers are chasing their last chance to become Paris Olympians, and will battle to the final bell. It is a great honour, and a remarkable achievement, to box for Ireland at this level, in the hope of becoming an Olympian. I congratulate each and every one of the boxers, and their clubs, club coaches and families”

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.

A total of 248 boxers will compete in boxing at Paris 2024, with 124 women and 124 men taking part. France, as host nation, have secured six automatic quotas for the Games – three for men and three for women, while there will also be nine Universality Places awarded, with five for women and four for men.

Team

50kg Daina Moorehouse, Enniskerry BC, Co. Wicklow

54kg Jennifer Lehane, DCU Boxing Club, Dublin

66kg Grainne Walsh, St. Mary’s BC, Tallaght, Dublin

51kg Sean Mari, Monkstown BC, Dublin

71kg Aidan Walsh, Holy Family Golden Gloves BC, Belfast

80kg Kelyn Cassidy, Saviour’s Crystal, Waterford.

92+kg Martin McDonagh, Galway Boxing Club.