Ireland have named the five female boxers who will compete at the Copper Box Arena in London next month, in a bid to secure qualification for the Tokyo Olympics. The event which runs from March 14-24, will be the penultimate opportunity for boxers to qualify for the Olympics, with one more chance in Paris later in May.
The 2020 Olympics will have a greater emphasis on women’s boxing than previous Games. This time around there will be a record five weight-classes for female Olympic boxers.
Two weight classes, featherweight (57 kg) and welterweight (69 kg) have been added to the already existing flyweight (51kg), lightweight (60kg) and middleweight (75kg).
As was expected, the 2018 world lightweight champion, Kellie Harrington, has seen off the valiant challenge of her lightweight rival Amy Broadhurst for the 60kg slot. Harrington and Broadhurst had been vying for the single lightweight spot available and it is Harrington who has gotten the nod.
The Dubliner made a successful return to the ring at the Strandja multi-nation tournament in Sofia last month. This follows her lengthy absence due to surgery on a broken thumb. Harrington went all the way to the final before being defeated by current European champion Mira Potkonen.
Monkstown Boxing club and 2019 World Cup gold medallist Michaela Walsh will box in the featherweight division which has six qualification places available in London. In 2019 Walsh also won a silver at the European Games.
Elite Flyweight female champion Ceire Smith will fight for Ireland at 51kg while reigning European middleweight champion Aoife O’Rourke has also been included in the squad. Finally, Christina Desmond makes up the final member of the squad travelling over and will compete in the welterweight division. There was competition for this place from Grainne Walsh but an injury sees Desmond guarantee her spot.
“We have some really good athletes pushing each other for places, so it has been a challenge to select our squad, but we have picked the best team to compete at the first qualifier in London,” according to Bernard Dunne, the High Performance director of the IABA who had the task of choosing the boxers.
“We would be looking for some good performances from our team. We have two opportunities to qualify, London and Paris, so we will review the squad post London.
“Preparations have gone well so far, and we head to Italy on Monday for a sparring camp which will then lead us into the qualifier.
“They’ve worked extremely hard to get to this point, so if they perform to the best of their ability in London, then that is all we can ask of them.”
Team Ireland leave for their final training camp in Assisi, Italy, on Monday and return home at the end of the month before heading to London where 27 Olympic places will be available for the women in the five weight classes.
For the flyweight, featherweight and lightweight division, there are 6 qualification places available. For welterweight there are 5 slots available and for the middleweight there are 4 places up for grabs in London.
Ireland Women Squad:
Ceire Smith (51kg), Michaela Walsh (57kg), Kellie Harrington (60kg) Christina Desmond (69kg), Aoife O’Rourke (75kg).