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‘No hesitation’ – No Grainne Walsh – Amy Broadhurst qualifier selection dilemma

IABA High-Performance director Tricia Heberle says there was no hesitation about selecting Grainne Walsh to represent Ireland at the final Olympic Qualifier in Thailand.

The Offaly native was selected as Ireland’s 66kg ahead of World gold medalists Lisa O’Rourke and Amy Broadhurst.

Walsh – who lost out controversially at March’s Olympic qualifier in Italy – went on to win four fights in Bangkok to seal her spot at the Games, and Hereble points out the High Performance were always confident she would do so.

Still, there was a lot of noise around the selection, particularly as a disgruntled Broadhurst defected to Team GB, for whom she tried to qualify unsuccessfully.

“With Amy, we had three high-quality boxers at that weight,” comments Heberle.

“In fact, we had four, we had Tina Desmond the year before. We had Gráinne, who we knew had been impacted by injuries, and Gráinne was very close to getting selected for the European Games last year.

“We had Amy who had a breakout 2022 and people couldn’t get anywhere near her. She did well in Strandja in early 2023. We had Lisa O’Rourke, who already won a world title at 70 and is part of the future.

“It was always going to be difficult,” she adds before discussing the reaction to the Team selection.

“There was some impact when we announced the selections because if you are getting a lot of criticism from outside and social media is going mad, and a lot of it was very personal, you can’t just ignore it – it’s there.

“The choice was that we were absolutely confident that for that first event in Milan, that Gráinne was the number one and then when we came back from Milan, and we had to look at who were our number ones for Bangkok, again she had presented a compelling case.

“It’s been well documented that the judging of that fight is very questionable. There was no hesitation that she was the number one and then that really created the whole roll on effect with Amy making her choices and decision.”

Speaking on European and World gold meadal winner Broadhurst’s move to Team GB, Herbele admitted it stung. She was also happy with how the High Performance dealt with the situation.

“We just tried to be professional about it. Everything that was requested of us, we did. We worked with the Olympic Federation because it was always going to be about them and the BOA (British Olympic Association). We worked with GB Boxing and just tried to be professional and try to support the fact that she made a decision.

“Yeah, it was painful. Again, do you get distracted by that or do you actually focus on the athletes that you need to work with and were looking to qualify?”


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