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European Champion Aofie O’Rourke sets her sights on Tokyo


Aoife O’Rourke conquered in Madrid, celebrated in style in Roscommon and is now concentrating on Tokyo.

After becoming only the second Irish female behind Katie Taylor to win European Championships gold last week the Castlerea fighter has got a taste for success and wants more.

Another note worthy medal may be won if she is sent to the Women’s World Boxing Championships in Russia next month, while more domestic success could be had at Elite National Championships in November.

However, the 2020 Olympics that have become O’Rourke’s main focus and getting on the plane to Tokyo her new goal.

“That’s what I’m fully focussed on —to try and qualify for the Olympics games at next February’s qualifiers in London and Paris. This will give me confidence. It would be great to get to Toyko,” O’Rourke told local media during a big homecoming party this week.  

Considering her youth success, the 22 year-old was always deemed to have a medal chance in Spain, but to win gold in such a talented weight class is testament to her ability and her potential.

O’Rourke claims she traveled pressure free and focused on producing her best in each fight rather than the result- and it paid dividends.

“I’ve always believed in my ability. But every competition is different. Sometimes it comes down to who you get in the draw.

“This time I wasn’t focussed on the result. The key was to go out and perform. I wanted to get into the ring and give it my best shot.

“I just felt totally different. We’d arrive in the stadium two hours before the fight and I felt really relaxed. I wasn’t concentrating on winning or losing.

Following victory Tetiana Petrovich, which guaranteed O’Rourke a bronze medal, a stunning semi-final defeat of Olympic Youth and World Youth champion, Anastasia Shamonova, got the boxing world talking.

O’Rourke out-boxed a fellow emerging talent and showed real skill en route to the final.

Even more impressively she was able to show another side to her game in the decider.

The gold medal victory required more guts than guile and the Rossie was able to play rough when needed.

“It wasn’t as free-flowing as the semi-final, but everything was on the line. She has been around a while, and there was a lot of holding. Both of us wanted it so much.

“As the rounds went on, I seemed to get more energy. I don’t know where that comes from. There seems to be more diesel in the tank. I could see it in her face that she was tiring, and that gave me even more energy,” she admitted.

“I didn’t really know if I had won the fight. I thought I had done well in the first round, but the judges gave it to her. But I did enough after that to get the decision.”


Jonny Stapleton contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 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: