Who will be on the Irish Women’s Team for Tokyo 2020?
Last week we briefly ran through the ten men’s weight classes for Olympic boxing and who may represent Ireland at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
This week it is the turn of the women, and it’s a much harder article to write.
Currently, and very unfairly, there are just three weights (flyweight, lightweight, middleweight) which feature at the Olympics for women. In addition, each weight features just twelve boxers. AIBA President Dr Ching-Kuo Wu has stated his desired to add light welterweight and welterweight for Tokyo, but nothing has been confirmed.
With this in mind, we take a look at the three current Olympic weights below:
Flyweight – 51kg
Ceire Smith (Cavan BC) will be hoping to qualifying for the Tokyo Games following a close and somewhat controversial loss to Tetyana Kob in the Olympic qualifiers. The DCU boxer, who represents Ireland in the World University Championships next month, has proved her elite credentials numerous times in recent years with wins over Rio silver medalist Sara Ourahmoune and 2014 World Champion Marlen Esparza. Current Elite champion Michaela Walsh (Holy Family GG) is another possibility, but the Belfast fighter, more comfortable at bantam or feather, already struggles hugely with the weight and the Commonwealth silver medalist will be unlikely to boil down to flyweight in 2020 at 27 years of age. Lauren Hogan (Edenderry) and Donna Barr (Twin Towns), the recent Elite light flyweight finalists will also harbour Olympic ambitions and are likely to move up. In terms of the young guns, the Belfast faithful speak very highly of Caitlin Fryers (Immaculata), a European Junior bronze medalist at 48kg last year. Kelsey Leonard (Curragh), current under-18 champion and 2015 World and European Junior bronze medalist is another huge talent, as is Mayo teen Shannon Sweeney (St Anne’s).
Lightweight – 60kg (and possibly Light Welterweight – 64kg)
Should she choose to continue fighting, Katie Taylor (Bray) will still be the woman to beat in four years time. There are plenty of fighters who have an eye on the lightweight berth held by Ireland’s most successful boxer of all time, and Taylor will be faced with huge competition should she aim for Tokyo. In a perfect World, Kelly Harrington (Glasnevin) will aim for the 64kg slot, but the Dubliner may have to squeeze down in weight to have a chance of going to an Olympics. Regardless, the only other Irish woman to win a senior World Championships medal is confident of toppling Taylor if needs be. Shauna O’Keefe (Clonmel) won many admirers last year during her Elite Senior final with the ubiquitous Taylor, and Cheyanne O’Neill (Athlone) is another who should be approaching her prime in four years time and a contender for either a light or light-welter spot. Looking at some of the younger talent, 2015 European Youth featherweight champ Amy ‘Baby Canelo’ Broadhurst will soon grow into the weight, while her Dealgan team-mate and current U-18 champion Orla Garvey will have Japanese dreams of her own. EU Youth silver medalist Niamh Ball (Trojan) will look to contend, while World Youth 54kg bronze medalist Natasha Logan (Edenderry) may eventually grow into the lightweight division. On the other hand, Shauna O’Callaghan (Clann Naofa) is very highly rated, but may be one hoping that light welter is introduced in the mean-time, as will Euro Junior bronze medalist Shannon Reilly (Bray). Finally, young gun Chloe McDaid (Illies GG) is confident that she will be the girl to take over the division in the coming years.
Middleweight – 75kg (and possibly Weltereweight – 69kg)
Cork’s Christina Desmond (Fr Horgans) holds a recent win over Olympic silver medalist Nouchka Fontijn, however the World Youth silver medalist could probably still do 69kg if it were an Olympic weight. Then there is the hugely decorated Ciara Ginty (Geesala), who will hoping light welter or welter divisions are introduced in the coming years. Claire Grace (Callan) is another with plenty of silverware but more suited to the welterweight division, while Grainne Walsh (Spartacus) was very impressive at the World Championships and may grow into middleweight for Tokyo. One fighter who is already an experienced fully-fledged middle is Louise Traynor (Bray). Turning attentions to the young stars, U-18 champion Aoife Burke (St Marys) could give some much-missed Dublin representation. Mayo’s EU Junior silver medalist Ciara Sheedy (Swinford) is another major prospect. 2015 World Youth bronze medalist Joanne Richards (St Michaels) and 2015 European bronze medalist Saoirse Dignam (Sacre Coeur) will both contend at either welter or middle and look to continue Wexford’s strong boxing tradition. Finally, Lauren Kelly (St Brigids) is a huge talent currently recovering from a severe arm injury and should be involved upon her return