Road to Tokyo – what Irish fighters need to do to secure Olympic qualification

By Bernard O’Neill

Nine Irish boxers will still be in play for Olympic qualification when the European qualifiers for Tokyo 2021 resume early next year.

The Europeans will be decided in February/March 2012 at a venue to be decided, followed by the final World qualifiers next May/June.

The European qualifiers for the 32nd Olympiad were abandoned after three days of competition at the Copperbox Arena in London on March 16 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A few hours before the curtain prematurely came down on the competition, Antrim’s Brendan Irvine booked a ticket for his second successive Olympiad after recording a convincing victory over Hungarian flyweight Istavan Szaka.

Irvine required a top-eight finish, and he beat Szaka on a unanimous decision to make the quarter-finals in the English capital.

Meanwhile, Kellie Harrington and her St Mary’s BC team-mate George Bates, Dean Gardiner, Kiril Afanasev, Michael Nevin, Emmet Brennan, Michaela Walsh and her brother Aidan and Aoife O’Rourke will still be in the mix when the qualifiers resume.

Bates was slated to face Azerbaijan’s ex-World Elite champion Javid Chalabiyev on St Patrick’s Day last looking to finish in the top eight and secure Olympic qualification.

The rest of the routes are not as clear cut for Ireland.

Harrington, Michaela and Aidan Walsh, Brennan and Nevin require top 6 finishes.

Likewise, if they make the semi-finals (top 4) they’re qualified but if they reach the quarter-finals (top 8) and lose they’ll box-off for the remaining two places.

There’s no ambiguity about what Afanasev, O’Rourke and Gardiner must do. They must finish in the top four (reach the semi-finals).

Kurt Walker, Christina Desmond and Carly McNaul lost in London, while Irvine, while already qualified, will meet Spain’s Gabrial Escobar for at least bronze at the European qualifiers.

Sixteen flyweights and featherweights qualified for Tokyo 2021 in London, but it’s still all to play for in the other six weights for men and five limits for women.

Two hundred and eighty-six boxers – 186 males and 100 females – will compete at the Tokyo Olympics.

European Qualifiers for Tokyo 2020

(Tournament postponed on March 17 because of the Covid-19 outbreak)

Copperbox Arena London

March 15

Last 32

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

Last 16

69kg Christina Desmond (Ireland) lost to Angela Carina (Italy) 0-5

March 16

Last 32

69kg Aidan Walsh (Ireland) beat Pavel Kamanin (Spain) 5-0

75kg Michael Nevin (Ireland) beat Pas der Van (Netherlands) 4-1

Last 16

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

March 17

Last 16

(Postponed)

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)

March 18

Last 16

(Postponed)

69kg Aidan Walsh (Ireland) v Wahid Hambli (France)

91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) v Petar Belberov (Bulgaria)

March 19

Q/Final

(Postponed)

52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) v Gabriel Escobar (Spain)

Irish squad

(Olympic qualification standard in brackets)

Male

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)

Female

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)

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