‘It felt like I’d been beat’ – Olympic hopeful Walsh reflects on qualification cancelation

By Bernard O’Neill

Michaela Walsh is looking forward to the resumption of the European qualifiers for Tokyo next February and March because she has some unfinished business.

The Belfast feather, whose brother Aidan is also part of the Irish Elite squad, was due to have her first bout at the European qualifiers on St Patrick’s Day last.

But the tournament was postponed on March 16 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, with Irish captain Brendan Irvine having qualified earlier that evening.

Walsh, who requires a top-six finish to book a ticket for the 32nd Olympiad, was scheduled to meet France’s Mona Mestian in the last 16 on March 17.

If the European medalist had won that bout she would have got two shots at qualifying as the winners of the quarter-finals are through and those that lose in the quarter-finals go into a box-off to decide the top six.

“Going home after the qualifier was cancelled, for me, it felt like I’d been beat. Even though I didn’t fight, I felt like I’d been beat, Walsh told the Irish News.

“Everything, all our training was geared towards the qualifiers. I was two fights away from qualifying for the Olympics. There was talk of them being
rescheduled for three weeks later.

“I thought I’d have to go back and reset, but eventually, it was announced that the Olympics had been postponed until next year.”

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Meanwhile, the World qualifiers for Tokyo will be decided next May and June at a host city to be confirmed.

European Qualifiers for Tokyo 2020

Copperbox Arena London March 13/24

(Tournament was postponed on March 16 because of the coronavirus outbreak)

March 17

Last 16

(Postponed)

57kg Michaela Walsh (Ireland) v Mona Mestian (France)

60kg Kellie Harrington (Ireland) v Aneta Rygielska (Poland)

63kg George Bates (Ireland) v Javid Chalabiyev (Azerbaijan)

75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Ireland) v Viktoriya Kebikava (Belarus)

75kg Michael Nevin (Ireland) v Arman Darchinyan (Armenia)

81kg Emmet Brennan (Ireland) v Uke Smajli (Switzerland)

91kg Kiril Afanasev (Ireland) v Emanual Reyes (Spain)

March 18

Last 16

(Postponed)

69kg Aidan Walsh (Ireland) v Wahid Hambli (France)

91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) v Petar Belberov (Bulgaria)

March 19

Q/Final

(Postponed)

52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) v Gabriel Escobar (Spain)

Results

March 16

Last 32

69kg Aidan Walsh (Ireland) beat Pavel Kamanin (Spain) 5-0

75kg Michael Nevin (Ireland) beat Max der van Pas (Netherlands) 4-1

Last 16

52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) beat Istavan Szaka (Hungary) 5-0

51kg Carly McNaul (Ireland) lost to Charley Davison (Team GB) 0-5

57kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) lost to Hamsat Shadolov (Germany) 0-5

March 15

Last 32

63kg George Bates (Ireland) beat Leon Dominguez (Spain) RSCI1

81kg Emmet Brennan (Ireland) beat Radenko Tomic (Bosnia & Herzegovina) RSC2

91kg Kiril Afanasev (Ireland) beat Begadze Nikoloz (Georgia) 4-1

Last 16

69kg Christina Desmond (Ireland) lost to Angela Carina (Italy) 0-5

Irish squad

(Olympic qualification standard in brackets)

Male

52kg Brendan Irvine (St Paul’s, Antrim) Cpt (Top 8) (qualified)

57kg Kurt Walker (Canal, Antrim) (Top 8)

63kg George Bates (St Mary’s, Dublin) (Top 8)

69kg Aidan Walsh (Monkstown, Antrim) (Top 6)

75kg Michael Nevin (Portlaoise, Laois) (Top 6)

81kg Emmet Brennan (Dublin Docklands) (Top 6)

91kg Kiril Afanasev (Smithfield, Dublin) (Top 4)

91+kg Dean Gardiner (Clonmel, Tipperary) (Top 4)

Female

51kg Carly McNaul (Ormeau Road, Belfast) (Top 6)

57kg Michaela Walsh (Monkstown, Antrim) (Top 6)

60kg Kellie Harrington (St Mary’s, Dublin) (Top 6)

69kg Christina Desmond (Fr Horgan’s, Cork, Garda BC) (Top 5)

75kg Aoife O’Rourke (Castlerea, Roscommon) (Top 4)

High-Performance Director: Bernard Dunne

Coaches: Zaur Antia, John Conlan, Dmitry Dimitruk

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