Back to plan Paris for Aoife O’Rourke

It’s back to the original plan for Aoife O’Rourke.

The talented middleweight suffered defeat in her first-ever Olympic bout, exiting the contest to Rio medallist, 2018 World Champion and reigning Asian champion, Li Qian in the Kokugikan Arena on Wednesday morning.

The Roscommon star wasn’t lacking in effort or desire and asked questions of the Chinese 31-year-old, but was ultimately out-experienced by the decorated stylist.

Although some suggested Li could have been docked a point, O’Rourke was humble and honest enough to reveal she felt the better boxer got the nod.

The Castlerea fighter wasn’t overly upset, pointing out qualifying for Tokyo was a bonus for a fighter who had Paris and the 2024 Olympics as her initial target.

“I was beaten by the better girl and everything is a learning curve,” the 24-year-old said after her reverse.

“I’m here in Tokyo. Six years ago, my goal would probably have been for Paris 2024 and I’m lucky enough to get into this Olympic cycle,” she added before declaring Paris in three years time now becomes the focus.

“I’ll go back to the gym now and work for Paris 2024.”

O’Rourke ditched her usual in-and-out tall approach and opted for a more aggressive tactic. It’s a game plan she felt worked and Li did have to use all her experience to try and nullify the eager 24-year-old.

Ultimately the Chinese medal hope was able to cope with the pressure and navigate her way into the Olympic quarterfinals – and deservedly so according to O’Rourke.

“I have been working really hard in training and working with the coaches. We had a good plan going in. I put the pressure on her hoping that she’s back down a bit, but again she just picked me off. She was the better girl on the day,” she adds before revealing she was now ready to join the support team.

“Tokyo has been brilliant. There’s been a great buzz about the place. I’m going to go back and cheer on everyone now the way they cheered me on today.”

Speaking on the fight, coach John Conlan praised O’Rourke’s warrior performance and discussed the game plan.

“Aoife’s a warrior. We had two or three options with Aoife, one was to maybe try and box with this girl, but she just had too much experience and did some things that made it difficult.”

“Another option was just to try and mix it up, put her under a lot of pressure and she tried that. It got a bit scrappy and I think the Chinese girl kind of made it as scrappy as possible by a lot of holding and stuff.”

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com