Harrington defeated Broadhurst in the Irish Elite lightweight final last year and would go on to win European bronze and World gold while her younger opponent would claim the European U22 title before taking a temporary step up to the non-Olympic light welterweight class where she would controversially miss out on a medal at the Worlds.
Broadhurst is to remain largely in the 64kg division this year, aiming to build experience and claiming that she no longer has Tokyo Olympic hopes and is instead targeting the 2024 Games in Paris.
The 21-year-old has done a number of interviews with the likes of the42.ie, GameOn, and this very site where she explained her reasoning.
Harrington, though, is not happy with some of the talk from the Louth talent and set out her own views at a media day to announce her involvement in the Olympic Federation of Ireland-backed ‘Dare to Believe’ initiative.
“I’m going to be quite frank about this because I’m hearing a lot about her ‘agreeing to step back’, right?” the Dubliner pointedly outlined.
“I beat her last year, and I would have beaten her again if she was there this year. So, when someone says they’re ‘agreeing to step back’, take it with a pinch of salt.”
“I’m the number one Irish 60kg. She might be the number one U22 champion but she’s not the number one at 60, so whether she agreed to it or not, she had the chance to get in there and prove herself and she didn’t take it, like.”
“I like her, she’s a great young one, she’s a great athlete, she’s a fantastic fighter. But it is what it is.”
Harrington has been annoyed by the talk from Broadhurst – whether it was intentional or not – and the fighter, who retained the Irish title via walkover last week noted how “you can’t be saying she’s agreed to step back because that kind of belittles me a little bit.”
“And it really does annoy me because it sounds as if someone is saying, ‘Ah, she agreed to step back and give you that chance, Kelly’. Well, no, actually — she didn’t have the balls to step up and take the chance herself.”
“As you can see, it does annoy me a little bit, I didn’t ask her, ‘Oh, will you please step back’ or anything. No. She done it because she didn’t want to fight me, and that’s it.”
“People had been saying it to me and I’m just like, ‘I just… I actually don’t care.’ Take the shot, like.”
“So don’t go around saying ‘I’m stepping back to give you a chance, I know how hard you fought for it’ and all, like.”
Broadhurst claimed the Irish 64kg title last week, beating Moira McElligott, and will drop back to lightweight for the European U22s next week before yo-yoing back up in the hope of being selected for the European and World Championships later this year.
Harrington was frustrated that she had no Irish opposition on Senior finals night, with Serbian-Swede Jelena Jelic instead being flown in.
That said, the 29-year-old admits that “I wasn’t surprised [that Broadhurst decided not to challenge] because I beat her last year, and I beat her fairly well.”
“I wasn’t surprised at all. If you want to be sent away for your country, you’ve got to win a national title. You’ve got to fight at 60kg. If you’re not in, you can’t win.”
“I fought at 64kg long enough because I knew that I wasn’t going to be sent at 60kg and I hadn’t got the confidence to beat Katie at that stage. I knew I wasn’t going to beat her because once you haven’t got confidence and you don’t believe in yourself, you’ve already lost before you get in.”
“She [Broadhurst] made the right decision but she’s just going about it the wrong way in saying why. Just be honest.”
Some have suggested that, if Harrington does not achieve Olympic qualification this year, it could lead to an all-or-nothing Seniors next year with Broadhurst, bolstered by more international experience, dropping down to take a shot.
It could be a rivalry that injects some life into the Irish amateur scene like Kieran Molloy and Paddy Donovan are doing now but Harrington doesn’t think so.
“It’s not a rivalry at all to me,” she says. “To be honest with you, it’s just people talking gibberish, people talking nonsense — that’s all.”
“The young one’s going to go on and she’s going to do good things in her career, and in 64 kilos I can see her going on and doing good things.”
“But don’t think that you’re trying to be nice when really it’s just belittling.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)