Kellie Harrington delivers impressive performance on Olympic debut

The Dublin fighter comfortably saw off the challenge of Italy’s Rebecca Nicoli.

Ireland's Kellie Harrington (red) in action with Rebecca Nicoli (blue) of Italy.
Ireland's Kellie Harrington (red) in action with Rebecca Nicoli (blue) of Italy.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

IT WAS A dream Olympic debut for Kellie Herrington as the Dublin fighter comfortably saw off the challenge of Italian Rebecca Nicoli in her opening bout of the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Harrington is now just one fight away from a medal in the lightweight division after advancing to the quarter-finals with a dominant performance at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan venue.

The 31-year-old looked full value for her top seeding and took control from the start, with Harrington ahead with all five judges following the first round.

Nicoli managed to grow into the fight in the second round and landed a few good shots on Harrington without ever really troubling the Dubliner, who responded in impressive fashion and again recorded a clean sweep with the judges.

And the classy Harrington, who looked much sharper than her 21-year-old opponent, delivered a controlled and stylish third round as she took the fight on unanimous decision to qualify for the quarter-finals and move one step closer to an Olympic medal.

“I feel great,” Harrington said.

I’m looking forward to speaking to my own club coach, Noel Burke. He’s the first person I always contact after I box so I’ll be looking forward to talking to him. He gives me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so I’ll be looking forward to that and getting tactics off him for the next opponent.

Looking back on the fight, she added: “She’s a tricky southpaw. The tactics were to try and be first, to try and draw her out so she’ll throw and then I can counter and that’s what we did, we had to stick to it, but patience was key. 

“It has been a bit of a wait (for my first Olympic fight). I’ve been a bit anxious, but it’s been great to support the rest of the team. As long as we’re started that’s the main thing, and I’m started now, this is going to fly in now.

“Once you get boxing you don’t feel it, it’ll just go, go, go and I’ll be home before I know it sitting at home, eating coffee slices and drinking tea with my two dogs and Mandy. If it’s not with a medal, it’s not the end of the world. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

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Harrington will take on Algeria’s Imane Khelif in her quarter-final fight next Tuesday morning. 

Updated at 8.27am with reaction from Kellie Harrington.

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Ciarán Kennedy

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