Har­ring­ton tar­get­ing Tokyo gold

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - FRONT PAGE - SEÁN McGOLDRICK

IRE­LAND’S newly-crowned world light­weight cham­pion Kel­lie Har­ring­ton has set her sights on re­peat­ing yes­ter­day’s gold medal per­for­mance at the Tokyo Olympics in two years’ time. “It’s my dream to do this again at the Olympics,” she said.

Two years af­ter emerg­ing from vir­tu­ally nowhere to win a sil­ver medal in the light wel­ter­weight (64kg) di­vi­sion at the world cham­pi­onships in Kaza­khstan, Har­ring­ton (above) be­came the first Ir­ish boxer to win medals in two dif­fer­ent weights at this level when tak­ing gold in the 60kg di­vi­sion in New Delhi.

She beat Thai south­paw Su­pa­porn Srisondee on a split 3-2 de­ci­sion af­ter a tac­ti­cal fight which could have gone ei­ther way. But three of the five ring­side judges gave the Dubliner the nod in two of the three rounds which se­cured her a first world ti­tle and only Ire­land’s third gold medal at this level.

But the va­garies of the judg­ing sys­tem were ev­i­dent as one of the other judges awarded Srisondee all three rounds while the fi­nal judge scored it 29-28 in favour of the Thai boxer. But, thanks to the three 29-28 scores in favour of the Ir­ish cham­pion, it was her hand which was raised by the referee.

Har­ring­ton, who cel­e­brates her 29th birth­day on De­cem­ber 11, said the mag­ni­tude of what she had achieved hadn’t sunk in yet. “I don’t think it will un­til I get home and see my fam­ily. It’s hard to sleep af­ter be­com­ing cham­pion of the world.

“I want to thank my fam­ily and friends back home. They have been amaz­ing, es­pe­cially my fam­ily, and without their sup­port it would be very hard to do this. The last two years have been amaz­ing and I feel ev­ery­thing is com­ing into place.

“This just didn’t hap­pen overnight, it’s been tough work. I have been train­ing for this since 2016 when I got the sil­ver medal. I wanted to drop down to light­weight and I knew I could do it and I kept plug­ging away. There was (train­ing) camp af­ter camp and they weren’t any old camp, they were all picked es­pe­cially so we could reach our peak here.

“The fi­nal was fight num­ber five. We had a game plan go­ing in to every fight. We didn’t just go in there ‘willy-nilly’. The coaches sat me down and told me the tac­tics. It was up to me to per­form and once I per­formed the re­sults speak for them­selves.

“My fi­nal op­po­nent was a strong and tricky south­paw. It was one round at a time. I wasn’t think­ing of the medal at all. But we had a plan and it worked.”

Ir­ish team man­ager Bernard Dunne, head of the IABA’s high per­for­mance pro­gramme, de­scribed Har­ring­ton’s fi­nal as ex­cep­tional.

“We had a plan for the fight which she car­ried out to per­fec­tion. She has been ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic dur­ing the whole tour­na­ment. Her prepa­ra­tion was re­ally good and this has been Kel­lie’s fo­cus for a long time and she got the re­sult she de­serves.

“The Thai op­po­nent was ex­tremely dif­fi­cult, she had a fan­tas­tic left hand and we tried to com­bat that by stay­ing away from it. Kel­lie coun­tered with her move­ment with her own left hook and jab and be­ing able to switch. Kel­lie can box or­tho­dox, she can box south­paw, she can box on the back foot and box go­ing for­ward. She is multi-tal­ented and it is great to see,” said the for­mer world pro­fes­sional cham­pion.

Ire­land fin­ished sixth in the medals’ ta­ble and along with Ger­many, who had for­mer Ir­ish coach Ed­die Bol­ger in their cor­ner, were the only Euro­pean coun­tries to win a gold medal.

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