Kellie Harrington moved to within nine minutes of an Olympic gold medal this morning.
The Dubliner ensured she will return home from Tokyo with a silver medal at the very least thanks to victory over Thailand’s Sudaporn Seesondee in the lightweight semi-finals at the Kokugikan sumo wrestling arena.
A nerve-wracking rematch of the 2018 World Championships final, the St Mary’s Tallaght switch-hitter again emerged the narrowest of split-decision winners following three cagey rounds in which she started and finished stronger.
The victory sees Harrington join John McNally, Fred Tiedt, Wayne McCullough, Kenneth Egan and John Joe Nevin as Irish boxing Olympic silver medal winners and she will now look to become only the third sweet science gold medal and follow in the footsteps of Michael Carruth and Katie Taylor on Sunday.
Seesondee, a two-time World Championship medal winner, has had the Dubliner in her sights ever since their razor-tight fight in India. In Tokyo, the South-East Asian came through Ecuadorian and Indian opposition before turning in a smart performance to edge British wonderkid Caroline Dubois and guarantee bronze.
Receiving a bye to the Last 16, Portland Row puncher Harrington overcame Italian Rebecca Nicoli and Algerian Imane Khelif to secure a medal but went to the next level this morning in a nail-biter of a contest.
SHE’S DONE IT!!!!
Ireland’s Kellie Harrington is through to the FINAL of the Women’s Light (57-60kg) and will fight for gold following a 3-2 split decision win v Sudaporn Seesondee (THA) 🥊🇮🇪
— Team Ireland (@TeamIreland) August 5, 2021
Extremely cagey to start, the pair were told to engage after a minute of sizing each other up and it was Harrington that landed the more significant shots after the telling off – before further encouragement from the action-hungry man in the middle. Razor-tight, the round was scored 3-2 in Harrington’s favour to hand her a crucial early lead.
A sharp counter-puncher, southpaw Seesondee made a bright start to the second as Harrington was forced to fight her way back into the contest – with a pair of eye-catching shots in the closing moments giving her a shout with the judges. The pair of punches were perhaps very important as the Northsider again got the nod on three cards and went into the final round up with two judges, level on two cards, and behind on one.
Harrington was able to counterpunch herself in the final stanza as Seesondee came forward. Attacking was perhaps not the Thai’s forte, and it looked to be a clean enough round to Harrington but we went to the cards with no certainty whatsoever.
Split decision, 3-2 with 29-28s across the board just like in 2018, a seemingly shell-shocked Harrington got the nod and another famous win for Irish boxing.
The women’s lightweight final will take place on Sunday, the final day of the Games, at 6:00am – with Harrington set to face 2019 World Champion Beatriz Ferreira of Brazil in what will be the first meeting of the pair. The #1-ranked fighter – although a quirk of the seeding system saw her seeded second – Ferreira will start a slight favourite following her dominant win over Finnish legend Mira Potkonen in the semis but Harrington will be confident in her ability to outbox the aggressive South American.
📺 Watch live – https://t.co/SCtsUOubuu
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) August 5, 2021