Five Irish boxers will be in action on Day 1 of the European Olympic qualifiers in Paris, France today.
Aoife O’Rourke, Aidan Walsh, Emmett Brennan, Michaela Walsh and Kellie Harrington are between the ropes.
Aoife O’Rourke, Aidan Walsh, and Brennan are on in the early session which begins at 1pm (Irish time) and Michaela Walsh and Harrington box the evening session which begins at 5pm.
Starting in the Last 16, O’Rourke needs two wins to make sure of Olympic qualification. First she must beat Belarussian Viktoryia Kebikava – who she defeated in her home country at the 2019 European Games. Then it’s probably European final opponent Elzbieta Wojcik of Poland in an Olympic shoot-out.
Aidan Walsh also needs two wins. First up is tricky Frenchman Wahid Hambli – whom Kieran Molloy beat earlier this year in Jordanstown. Win this would and he have two shots – a quarter-final and, if needed, a box-off. It would likely be Ukrainian Yevhenii Barabanov – a double European bronze winner – in the quarter and decent Georgian Eskerkhan Madiev in the box-off.
Dublin’s Brennan finds himself in the same scenario needing two wins. First he must beat experienced Swiss fighter Uke Smajli then he would have two shots – a quarter-final and, if needed, a box-off. Armenia’s European Games bronze medallist Gor Nersesyan would be the likely quarter-final foe and Sweden’s Liridon Nuha the probable box-off opponent.
Michaela Walsh is another needing back-to-back victories. First she must beat French European and EU bronze medallist Mona Mestiaen then she will have two chances – a quarter-final and a box-off. The quarter-final would probably be against Ukrainian veteran Yulia Tsyplakova while the box-off would be most likely to be against either Bulgarian Stanimira Petrova – who beat Walsh in the European Games final – or England’s Karriss Artingstall who Walsh has beaten before but is rapidly improving. That all said, if Walsh beats Mestiaen and Russian Liudimila Vorontsova loses to Irma Testa, then the Belfast boxer will be guaranteed an Olympic slot by virtue of the world rankings route.
Harrington needs two wins to be certain of qualification – first versus Poland’s Aneta Rygielska whom she has already beaten this year and then, probably, against reigning IBF super featherweight pro champion Maiva Hamadouche of France. If she loses in the quarters there would be a box-off, most likely versus Russia’s European and World light welter bronze medallist Ekaterina Dynnik.
European Olympic Qualifiers
75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Ireland) v Viktoriya Kebikava (Belarus)
69kg Aidan Walsh (Ireland) v Wahid Hambli (France)
81kg Emmet Brennan (Ireland) v Uke Smajli (Switzerland)
57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) v Mona Mestian (France)
60kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) v Aneta Rygielska (Poland)