“The win will come if I perform” – Christina Desmond aiming for first gold

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Christina Desmond is part of a new breed of Irish female boxers.

As participation, interest, and funding has grown, the Cork woman is one of a number of Irish fighters that have medaled on the international stage at underage level across the 2010s.

Last year then, Desmond hit the big leagues in the Senior ranks.

The Cill na Martra middleweight claimed World Universities and European Championships bronze in a sensational twelve months in which she also beat World #2 Nouchka Fontijn.

Still only 21 years old, Desmond perhaps marks the start of an influx of young female stars, accustomed to medaling, entering the Irish team – with names like Ciara Ginty, Caitlin Fryers, and Amy Broadhurst all capable of competing in coming years [indeed Ginty claimed the 2017 Elite Senior title].

A World silver and EU bronze medalist at Youth level, Desmond is now aiming to win a big international gold medal.

The Rebelette is part of an eight-strong Irish team that heads to the EU Championships in Italy next month, and is currently in camp out in France.

Confident going into the tournament in Cascia, Desmond said that “I’m really looking forward to it, I’m hoping that I can make a name out here at these championships.”

When the fact that she has already won so much at international level is put to her and that she already is a ‘name,’ Desmond responded that “for me, making a name is getting gold! That’s the aim for me.”

“It’s not even ‘making a name’ that I want, it’s the gold I want. I know it’s still early days and I’m young, but I’d like to get it now and build on it, that’s really what it is. We’ll see how it goes anyway.”

It’s testament to the culture of success that has been created in Irish boxing, and it ensures that boxers like Desmond are now confident that, if they perform, they will win.

Desmond outlined how “I’m feeling good and hopefully the next three weeks go good in training and I pick up no injuries, no niggles. At the end of the day, it’s on the day, and whatever happens on the day we’ll have to go with it.”

“Hopefully I get the performance and that’s all I’m looking for, win or lose – but the win will come if I perform.”

Desmond appreciates the nature of her achievement and reflected on how “last year, obviously, it was all new to me so I didn’t know what I was going in to. Winning a medal last year was massive for me, I was just after turning 20 when I won the medal, for me that was just huge, I never expected it.”

“Normally, the other boxers, are waiting for medals years and for me to get one in my first year was massive.”

“It’s kind of a small bit of pressure to say ‘you’ve to get another one, you’ve to get another one’ – but I’m not looking at it that way. I just want to give my best performance at every tournament and come out with the best I can possibly do.”

“The aims are high and the goals are high, but we’ll take every fight as it comes.”

The big win at the Europeans in Sofia last year has provided Desmond with an ‘International’-level (€12,000) Sports Council grant for this year. One of only five Irish boxers to be individually funded, Desmond is hoping to build on this and reach the podium in more ways than one.

The Fr Horgan’s fighter described how “It feels like the High Performance is backing me now. Last year I was only brand new on the team and I didn’t know whether I was coming or going. I was new to the trainers.”

“I really feel they’re after backing me and helping me. They’re fully backing me so I feel I’ve got full confidence going out there.”

“The funding did help, I’d like to get on the higher levels of it, but I know it’s going to take time. As I’ve said, I’m young, but I’m willing to wait around, I’m willing to put in the effort to get it. All I want is to be treated fairly like the men.”

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie