The Sparticus puncher won her first major international medal in Cascia but knows it could have been more were it not for a dubious decision in the semi-finals. The end result though is not despair, only determination and confidence now in the knowledge that she is one of the best 69kg fighters in the world.
21 year old Walsh defeated Welshwoman Louise Price to guarantee bronze, but bafflingly lost in the semis to eventual gold medalist Nadine Apetz despite forcing the German into a standing count in the final round.
Looking back on her tournament, Walsh told Irish-Boxing.com that “I’m not going to lie, I was very nervous for my fight in the quarter finals. I wanted to be on that podium more than anything and, once I knew I had my place on it, I did feel like a bit of the pressure was off. Pressure from myself more than anything.”
“But I wasn’t settling for bronze. I went into that semi final and fought my heart out with everything I had, and the judges took away my place in the final with a brutal decision. But nothing can change that.”
The 3-2 split decision verdict in favour of Apetz raised jeers in the venue, and Walsh was absolutely incensed in the ring. Already a noted puncher, Walsh believes she may have to go above and beyond to make sure in future.
“I have to beat these people more convincingly,” she notes. “KO them to win!”
“I looked back at the fight with two of my teammates that night and actually regretted looking at it, because it made me more angry at the judges’ decision. I thought my first fight was actually closer than that one, although I felt I won both.”
“It is what it is, all in all I was happy with a medal but devastated knowing the woman standing on top of the podium with the gold, was the girl who I felt I beat in the semis. But, revenge will be so sweet next year and nobody in 69kg will want to draw me.”
“I am thankful for the medal of course. Any medal is great at this level so I’m not too disappointed.”
Last year, her first on the Senior international circuit, Walsh reached the quarter finals of both the World and European Championships. With this experience in the bag, and the medal breakthrough made, the Midlander is now full of confidence.
Walsh recalled how “2016 was a great year for me and made me really grow up. Being thrown into the deep end is scary, especially as I was only 20, not experienced at all, and going in against senior elite women who had so many things in their favor over me. But it’s the only way to learn and overcome fears.”
“I was lucky to get good opportunities in 2016. And in the two majors, I bowed out of the competition at the medal stages, so this time was great to finally be on the podium. The only way is up!”
“I did feel a lot more comfortable this time. My name actually means something in the 69kg category now and I know people fear drawing me, like I feared some names last year. So it’s good and next year will be even better because I am even more motivated now.”
Walsh also felt the benefit of new High Performance Director Bernard Dunne, who was away to his first tournament with the women’s team.
Noting the cohesive unit, Walsh described how “I felt Bernard was a good addition to our whole team. He was very good for getting you focused in the warm up before fights and stuff.”
“For me, I was more relaxed in the warm up as he tries to keep things normal. He loves to sing so he was always whacking out the tunes before fights! I feel he understands because he was a boxer and knows exactly what we feel, same as our coaches.”
“Shout out to Jimmy [Payne] and Dima [Dimitruc] too, I think the whole team worked so well together and got the best results and performances out of us. Obviously they can’t control the judges decisions.”
2018 will bring back around World and European Championships, and Walsh believes that she can make the podium her home. First however, a break, and the youngster outlines how “my plan for now is sleep and recover. I am going on a holiday to Spain tomorrow for a little break away for a few days just to get away from everything.”
“I’ve done a lot of traveling the last while but never able to enjoy it like on the beach and at the pool or sunbathing. Always training and eating healthy and stuff. So now I just want to let the hair down for a week or two. Then back to the drawing board, see what’s coming up, and back to the gym.”
“I’m excited for the future because I feel I am going to shock people in the competitions coming up as the best of me has not been seen yet. I promise you that.”
“The future is very bright and I won’t stop pushing until I am the number one.”