There is no easy path to an Olympic medal warns Kellie Harrington.
The popular Dubliner got Irish fans dreaming of another Olympic medal when she disposed of Italian Rebecca Nicoli in Tokyo on Friday morning to put herself just nine minutes away from lightweight bronze at the very least.
In fact, Harrington’s recent form, past credentials and opening performance aligned with talk of a ‘good draw’ have many believing a place on the podium is a foregone conclusion.
It’s something the fighter herself would disagree with as she points out everyone at the Games is an elite operator.
“Everybody who is here is top drawer. We are all elite. We have all had to graft hard to get here. Every fight is a hard fight and every fight is a potential gold medal fight. I’m just taking one step at a time,” she said after her victory.
The St Mary’s BC fighter made the comments even before she knew who she would fight next, showing respect to everyone in a talent-packed lightweight division.
It turns out Algerian Imane Khelif stands between the 30-year-old and a medal, not that Harrington cares. The fighter who impressed qualifying for via the African route is Zaur Antia and John Conlan’s problem until the first bell rings on Tuesday morning as far as the Dub is concerned.
“I don’t know who my next opponent is. They are in the ring now, but I won’t look at it. I didn’t look at the draw. I let them (the coaches) worry about it.”
The victory on Friday came in Harrington’s Olympic debut and was a debut she was made to wait for. The flag bearer had to watch as all her teammates saw action, indeed she saw Kurt Walker fight twice before she got to grace the Olympic ring.
As a result she was delighted to get the ball rolling.
“It felt good to get started. We arrived out here on June 30th and now it is July 30th. So, we are a month out here now.
“It was nice to get going today and get going in a good way. Happy days. It was a long wait. It’s sticky and warm walking around the village.
“I didn’t really walk around too much to be honest. You are not really seeing a whole lot apart from the apartment and the food hall. I am living in the food hall and for a boxer to be able to say they are living in the food hall is something else like.
“This is a great journey, but this is not the destination.”