Kellie Harrington was speaking at the launch of European Week of Sport 2020. Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

'I need to keep doing things for my own head, for my mental state of mind'

Kellie Harrington is ‘training like an animal’ as she targets an Olympic spot next year.

KELLIE HARRINGTON admits she loves ‘training like an animal’ and will continue to do so – with or without the Olympics next year.

The 2018 world championship gold medallist is targeting a place at next year’s rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo but accepts there’s no guarantees they’ll go ahead.

They’ve already been postponed by 12 months because of the global pandemic and officials have hinted at scrapping it altogether if 2021 doesn’t work out.

Harrington, who turns 31 later this year, would have a big decision to make about her future if the games were cancelled.

The lightweight has not ruled out considering a career in the professional ranks, but admits ‘it would literally be only for the money,’ as her heart is in the amateur game.

Speaking at the launch of the European Week of Sport, Harrington said that her life will continue to revolve around sport and exercise whatever happens with the Olympics.

Harrington said: “I need to keep doing things for my own head, for my mental state of mind. If I didn’t exercise, I would probably need to take medication for my mental health. I look at what I do as a great way for sorting myself out basically, I don’t need to take medication and I’m fine. I think if a lot of people just tried some sport they’d see the same benefits.

“You don’t have to be a boxer, you don’t have to be a runner, you don’t have to have played football, or anything like that. Just do some exercise, 30 minutes a day, it doesn’t have to be high intensity, it’s just moving your body, freeing up your mind and allowing yourself to think differently than what you’ve been thinking before you got active and did that exercise.

“Here’s the thing that I say about training for my mental health, I’m going to train anyway, whether these Olympics are next year or they’re not. I’m going to keep training and I’ll train the way I train because I just love it, I love training like an animal basically. It’s just what I enjoy.

It’s my adrenaline rush so if they’re here next year, it’ll be great. If they’re not here next year, it will be sad but the training will still continue and I’ll just keep going on, I’ll just keep plodding forward.”

Harrington has previously hinted at hanging up her gloves if the Olympics don’t go ahead though confirmed she’ll continue to fight at some level.

The 2019 European Games silver medallist said: “If there is no Olympics, I’d be interested in coming back and….look, I’ve nine elite Irish titles, I’d be interested in coming back and getting another two Irish titles. International-wise, I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m going to do if the Olympics is cancelled, but I’ll definitely be on the Irish scene anyways.”

Harrington was speaking at the National Indoor Arena and wore a protective face mask — something she is surprisingly used to.

She explained that she wore one previously at world championship finals in 2016 and 2018 to guard against possible infection — a rarity at the time.

She said: “The thing about it is, I don’t care about what anyone thinks. I’m kind of out there on my own. I just do what I’m doing. I wear what I wear and I say what I say. I care about what people think of me as a person, but I don’t care of what they think of how I look, what I have on or what my hair is like or what clothes I’m wearing, what shoes are on my feet. I don’t care about those things. That’s all materialistic stuff, it doesn’t bother me whatsoever.”

Harrington works part-time in St Vincents Psychiatric Hospital in Fairview, switching roles from catering to cleaning in recent years.

She said she is ‘very, very cautious’ about her movements throughout the week and of ensuring she doesn’t unwittingly pass the Covid-19 virus to any patients.

She said: “I don’t think I’d be able to live with myself if I did that. I care for them so much and they care for me. We have a great relationship and it’s not a job for me, I just enjoy going in.”

Harrington has a tournament scheduled for Germany in October but admits she’s ultimately focused on the Olympics qualifiers in early 2021.

She said: “I’m not going out there to Germany to win a gold medal, I’m not going out there to win any medal, I’m just going out there to perform and to test myself and to see where I’m at and where I need to be and what shape I’m in at the moment and what improvements and adjustments I need to make. These competitions are all stepping stones until the European Olympic qualifier.”

** Ambassador and boxer Kellie Harrington was speaking at the launch of European Week of Sport 2020, in partnership with Sport Ireland. European Week of Sport is a celebration of sport which promotes physical activity in people of all ages, background, or fitness levels. Sport Ireland are calling on you and your family to get out and #BeActive between the 23rd – 30th of September and who knows, this may be the start of a new found love for sport. See for more information.

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