By Bernard O’Neill
Kellie Harrington is eager to get back sparring and trying out some of the techniques she’s been working during the Covid-19 restrictions on sport.
The 2018 World Elite lightweight champion would like to be one of the athletes qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.
Harrington was part of the thirteen-strong Irish squad for the European qualifiers at the Copperbox Arena in London in March.
But the tournament was cancelled after three days on St Patrick’s Eve because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Harrington, who required a top-six finish to qualify in London, was due to meet Poland’s Aneta Rygielska, an opponent she beat earlier this year, on St Patrick’s Day two wins away from booking an Olympic ticket.
It’s expected that the European qualifiers will resume early next year. As it stands, 16 flyweights and featherweight, including Irish captain Brendan Irvine, qualified for Tokyo in London.
Harrington wants to join the Ireland skipper on the plane to the 32nd Olympiad, but for now, the 2016 World Elite light-welter silver medallist is training and staying positive during the Covid-19 restrictions.
“I’m taking full advantage of it. You have to take the positives out of a negative situation and just get on with it and keep moving forward, said the St Mary’s BC woman and only Irish boxer to win two World Elite limits at different limits.
“I’m training most days. I have the (punch) bag out the back and my partner does pads with me. I have a little small gym. Me shed is turned into a gym. I’m still doing what I need to do.
“I really didn’t know what way feel in those qualifiers (London) because we were half thinking “is it going to get cancelled today, is it going to get cancelled tomorrow?” We really didn’t know what was happening.
“So it’s hard to do your usual routine when you have that much going on around you. It felt weird and I was disappointed that I didn’t get to box because that was the qualifiers obviously.
“Now that’s still over my head. There’s a lot of athletes qualified already and I would like to be one of them. Like me, there’s plenty of other people out there who haven’t qualified so I just have to get on with it and move forward.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back sparring because I want to try what I’ve done for the last ten weeks, what I’ve been working on. I want to see if it actually comes into play when I spar.
“I’m more interested about sparring. Interested in how it is going to pan out.”
European champion Aoife O’Rourke, Dean Gardiner, Kiril Afanasev, Michaela Walsh and her brother Aidan, Michael Nevin, Emmet Brennan and George Bates were also scheduled to fight at the European qualifiers for Tokyo on March 17 and 18 in London.
Belfast flyweight Brendan Irvine was slated to meet Spain’s Gabriel Escobar in London. Both men, who have already qualified, will go head-to-head for at least bronze.
The new dates for the European and World qualifiers have yet to be confirmed, and the date for the Americas qualifiers.
European Qualifiers for Tokyo 2020
Copperbox Arena London March 13/24
(Tournament was postponed on March 16 because of the coronavirus outbreak)
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)
69kg Aidan Walsh (Ireland) v Wahid Hambli (France)
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) v Petar Belberov (Bulgaria)
52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) v Gabriel Escobar (Spain)
69kg Aidan Walsh (Ireland) beat Pavel Kamanin (Spain) 5-0
75kg Michael Nevin (Ireland) beat Max der van Pas (Netherlands) 4-1
52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) beat Istavan Szaka (Hungary) 5-0
51kg Carly McNaul (Ireland) lost Charley Davison (Team Great Britain) 0-5
57kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) lost to Hamsat Shadolov (Germany) 0-5
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
69kg Christina Desmond (Ireland) lost to Angela Carina (Italy) 0-5
(Olympic qualification standard in brackets)
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)
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