Team Ireland touched down to the red carpet treatment at Dublin Airport this morning after once again thrilling the nation in top international competition.
The eight-strong squad brought home silver and bronze from the AIBA World Women’s Elite Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Kellie Harrington, a switch-hitting revelation in Central Asia, won silver and Katie Taylor secured bronze, her sixth consecutive medal at this level.
Speaking at today’s homecoming, Irish Athletic Boxing Association President Pat Ryan and CEO Fergal Carruth hailed the performances of Team Ireland and said that they had done Irish boxing proud against the top boxing countries in the world.
Joe Hernon, IABA Vice President, Steven Connolly, IABA Registrar, and the IABA Officer Board also attended today’s hoemcoming.
The podium finishes from the 9th edition of the 64-nation tournament maintains a proud IABA tradition of never failing to secure a medal at this level in a decade.
Granted, Taylor claimed all the medals – five gold – up to this weekend, but this time out Harrington and the Irish squad shared the burden of expectation with the Bray lightweight and turned in some memorable performances.
The Dubliner lost out on a majority decision from a tight encounter in the 64kg class in Friday’s final to China’s Yang Wenlu over four, two minutes rounds.
Harrington, who will move into a top five position in the world 64kg rankings after picking up 800 points for silver when the rankings are adjusted to reflect performances in Astana, is vowing to return for gold next time out.
She said: “Now I know I’m up there with the best and all I have to do is keep pushing. I believe because everybody here is making me believe. Next time I come here it will be gold that I take home.
“The silver will push me even further. She’s (Wenlu) an absolutely fantastic girl, credit to her,“ sportingly added the Glasnevin BC clubwoman, who praised the coaching staff and staff in Astana and who also described her club coach Jimmy Halpin as an inspiration.
The only downside to the silver medal win, a negative which is outside Harrington’s influence, is that 64kg is not one of the three Olympic weights for women.
However, Dr CK Wu, President of the International Boxing Association, is on the record saying this week that they will be working very hard toward increasing the Olympic categories from women from three to five for Tokyo 2020.
The next occasion the team may be together for a top international outing could be at the 2016 European Elite Women’s Championships in November, although a host city and exact date have yet to be confirmed.
Taylor qualified for August’s Olympics in Astana by virtue of reaching the lightweight semi-final. She joins her compatriots Paddy Barnes, Brendan Irvine, Michael Conlan, David Oliver Joyce, Steven Donnelly and Joe Ward on the plane to Rio, while Harrington is the fifth Irish boxer to reach an AIBA World Elite final in Astana after Taylor (06/08/10/12/14), Jason Quigley (2013), Michael Conlan (2015), and Joe Ward (2015).
The Irish champion won four of her five fights in Kazakhstan. Taylor won three from four.
In a remarkable statistic, Taylor’s narrow defeat to France’s Estelle Mosselly in the semi-finals was her first reversal at this level since she lost to North Korea’s Kang Kum Hui at the 2005 AIBA World Women’s Elite Championships in Russia.
Meanwhile, thirty three of the thirty six women that will compete at Rio 2016 have now qualified. The final three places – one per weight at fly, light and middle – will be distributed via the Tripartite Commission (invitation places) in the coming weeks.
Taylor, Shelley Watts (Australia),Yana Alekseevna (Azerbaijan),Adriana Araujo (Brazil), Yin Junhua (China), Estelle Mosselly (France), Mira Potkonen (Finland),Hasna Lachgar (Morocco),Irma Testa (Italy),Anastasia Beliakova (Russia) and Michaela Mayer (USA) are through to Rio in the lightweight class.
Araujo, a bronze medallist at London 2012, received the one host places reserved for females at Rio 2016. The rest booked tickets the hard way.
Ireland, courtesy of Harrington and Taylor, finished in 7th position in the medals table in Kazakhstan.
Astana 2016 marks the third occasion – as was the case for Irish boxing at the 2013 AIBA World Men’s Elites, also in Kazakhstan, when Jason Quigley and Joe Ward also won silver and bronze and Doha 2015 when Michael Conlan and Ward won gold and silver – that two Irish boxers occupied podium positions at the same World Championships.
“They’re a great bunch of girls. The camaraderie within the squad is incredible. With a bit of luck we could have taken one or two more medals, and that’s not an exaggeration, ” said Irish Team manager Anna Moore.
“We’re delighted with the performances and delighted to make history.”
The total haul for Irish boxing from the AIBA World Women’s Elite Championships since the inaugural tournament in the USA is 2001 now stands at five gold, one silver and one bronze.
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) lost to Estelle Mossely (France) 1-2
64kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) beat Sara Kali (Canada) 3-0
64kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) lost to Yang Wenlu (China) 0-2
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)
64kg Kellie Harrington (Glasnevin) (Silver)
69kg Grainne Walsh (Sparticus)
75kg Christina Desmond (Fr Horgan’s)
Team manager: Anna Moore
Coaches: Zaur Antia, Eddie Bolger, Gerry Storey, Pat McDonagh
Physio: Molly Ryan