Dream team moments, such as the one the latest Irish boxing Dream Team enjoyed in Budva last week, are why Kellie Harrington decided against walking away from the amateur game after Tokyo.
The Dublin star could have explored lucrative professional options after picking up lightweight gold in Tokyo or even bowed out at the top late last Summer.
However, she elected to stay amateur and told Irish-boxing.com she did so because she wanted to be part of what could be a historic period for Irish boxing and Irish women’s boxing in particular.
The Portland Row fighter could see the talent coming through the ranks and knew big weeks, like last week in Montenegro, where Ireland topped the European Championship medal table and won Team of the Tournament, were just around the corner – and she wanted to play a part in that success.
“To be honest I could have walked away after Tokyo, but I didn’t want to because this is what I want. I want to be part of this. I seen this happening and I want to be part of it. I’d like to be the marker, help get the girls there, and then I’ll be on my way out,” she told Irish-boxing.com at Dublin Airport on Sunday.
“I’ve been here for a very long time, 17 years I’ve been boxing and to be part of this… this is the stuff that dreams are made of.”
Harrington reaffirmed her status as the best amateur lightweight on the planet, as well as an Irish sporting great, by finishing top of the 60kg podium at a notoriously hard to medal at tournament in Budva, Montenegro last week.
The win sees the Portland star become only the second Irish fighter ever to complete the golden set in becoming an Olympic, World and European gold medal winner -the first being Katie Taylor.
However, rather than bask in the glory of her own personal achievement the Dublin favourite deflected the spotlight onto the recording-breaking team.
“It feels great to be away with 10 boxers and to come away with seven medals it feels great,” she beamed. “The three girls that didn’t get medals were just pipped and were just right there. Our performances were absolutely incredible out there, everyone performed. It was unfortunate that some of us were pipped just at the medal stages.”
Harrington’s joy for her teammates and their international success was obvious, she was a lot less excited when reflecting on her own brilliant performances and podium finish.
“I was just saying to John [Conlan] on the plane, that it’s crazy, you train for these things and you are up, your up, your up and then after you drop down. I don’t know what way to feel after a fight. I just want to get back and spend time with my family. I’m also already thinking about what is next,” she adds before revealing her thoughts have drifted to Paris and Olympic qualification.
“The whole point of this tournament for me to see who is going to be in the European Olympic qualifiers next year and that’s a really good marker for me being out there. I’ll start working on that after two or three weeks off. I’ll work on that once I get back with my club coach Noel Burke, working on those girls on strategies and how to perform against those girls.
“Paris in sight, I’ll give it a bash. If I get there I get there. I’m not putting pressure on myself. I’ve already achieved everything that has to be achieved in amateur boxing so if I get to Paris it will be a bonus. I will give it absolutely everything to get there but I’m trying to take a more chilled approach to it.”