One step closer to Tokyo – Aoife O’Rourke gets Ireland off to a winning start in Paris

Aoife O’Rourke has moved to within one win of a seat on the plane to Tokyo with victory in Paris this afternoon.

The Roscommon 75kg set up an Olympic shoot-out by defeating former European Games foe Viktoryia Kebikava of Belarus.

The Castlerea fighter produced a dynamic display to get Ireland’s Olympic qualifier restart off to a perfect start, progress into the quarterfinals and move to within touching distance of Olympic qualification.

O’Rourke has too much class for the 35-year-old and secured a 4-1 split decison win picking up a number of 10-8 rounds along the way.

The final score reading 30-25, 30-24, 30-27, 28-29, 30-27 in her favour.

Standing between O’Rourke and a place and Olympian status will most likely be European final opponent Elzbieta Wojcik,

O’Rourke shipped a right hand early in the first round but keeping it simple found her range and a way into the fight soon after. From 30 seconds in she took total control, showed great variety and dynamism, walking her opponent on to shots and countering sensationally with the right hand.

Indeed, so good was O’Rourke in the opening stanza two judges awarded her a 10-8 round.

The Connaught fighter looked to go for the kill at the start of the second and landed some brilliant right hands and solid jabs to the body. However, the nine-time national champion, Kebikava managed to battle her way back into the round, getting O’Rourke down of her toes withs some good body work.

She impressed one judge enough to be awarded the round but another saw it in favour of O’Rourke 10-8 again.

The Irish fighter was back on her movement in the last and started to look a class above a game foe. The crisp right hand continued to do damage as did a solid jab to the solar plexus but combinations and great footwork played their part in what was an extermely impressive win.

Up next is Belfast’s Aidan Walsh followed by Dublin’s Emmett Brennan. Walsh fights Wahid Hambli of France in the 69kg class, while Brennan ends Irish interest in the afternoon session as he takes on Uke Smajli of Switzerland.

Jonny Stapleton contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: