It’s the kind of success most would look to dine out on for quite sometime, but for Kurt Walker European Games gold is more Olympic Games stepping stone than anything.
The Canal BC fighter rounded off a sensational week in Minsk with a brilliant win over Ukraine’s Mykola Butsenko to collect Ireland’s only gold of the European Games.
It’s a massive achievement for Lisburn man, but not one he plans to dwell on.
Indeed, it seems a mindset the entire Boxing Team, which took home six of of eight medals for the country, revolves around using the Games as Tokyo 2020 prep.
“It was class. It was good to get that experience in before the Olympics, being in a multi-sports competition, to see how those things run, what you have to do to stay focused.
“Bernard set it in our mind that this is a stepping stone for the Olympics. It’s not the end,” Walker said after arriving home to Ireland yesterday.
“I always go out aiming for gold. The important thing is to perform but I was delighted to get gold.”
Walker won his gold at bantamweight, a weight which is no longer part of the Olympic make up. However, that isn’t a concern and is confident he will move back up to featherweight with little worries.
“I could make 56kg if I had to but going the extra kilo for featherweight suits me.”
The medal haul in the Games would normally have people excited with regard to the European and World Championships that were set to play out in 2019.
Both would have acted as Olympic qualifiers, but may not go ahead after the IOC sanctioned the AIBA over concerns about governance and ethics.
It is understood that Russia has offered to run both the Men’s and Women’s Worlds later this year without any input from the AIBA, but Irish fighters will have to wait until 2020 to secure places on the plane to Tokyo.
The first chance to secure Olympian status will come at the European qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 in London next spring.