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Kellie Harrington wins quarter-final to secure Olympic bronze medal

The Dubliner was too strong for Algeria’s Imane Khelif.

Kellie Harrington won her quarter-final bout in style.
Kellie Harrington won her quarter-final bout in style.

KELLIE HARRINGTON WILL return from the Olympics with at least a bronze medal after winning her quarter-final bout against Algeria’s Imane Khelif.

Harrington advanced to the semi-finals of the lightweight division with a commanding unanimous decision victory.

Harrington had eased past Italy’s Rebecca Nicoli in her round of 16 fight on Friday.

And the Dubliner was just as impressive against Khelif, starting strongly to take a tentative first round with four of the five judges.

Harrington then landed some good shots at the beginning of the second round, her speed and movement proving too good for Kehlif. Harrington’s momentum was paused following a trip over her own shoelaces, but she took control again to take the round with all five judges.

And she dominated the third round, landing a number of impressive, clean shots as she dragged Khelif around the ring.

“You know, I’m overwhelmed with emotions at the moment,” Harrington told RTÉ. 

“Sometimes you think of getting here, and never think of getting medals or anything. Sometimes I think I’m lucky… You can’t be that lucky to be winning all these things and then end up here and have a bronze medal in my bag from the Olympic Games.

“Everything I’ve achieved, I owe it to Noel Burke, my club coach at home and I owe it to these men (coaches in Tokyo) and the rest of the Irish high performance team. My teammates as well for all the sparring and the preparation, all the support we give each other.

And the support that I’m getting from the community back home. I’ve heard that it’s lit back home and I’m just so happy and my emotions really come when it comes to this, because to be able to give them something to be happy about and to sing and dance for… I’m just one person lifting a little bit of a nation.”

Harrington’s victory means the 31-year-old is guaranteed at least a bronze medal, with a chance to upgrade to gold or silver when she takes to the ring for her semi-final bout on Thursday at 6am Irish time, where she will face Sudaporn Seesondee of Thailand.

“Hakuna matata,” Harrington added. “It means no worries for the rest of your days, that’s what I say. It wasn’t an amazing fight, but it was a fight that I won.

“To be honest, I don’t feel pressure about medals or anything like that because at the end of the day, I’m just here to perform and give my best.

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“That wasn’t my best today but again, it’s very hard when you’re up against a tricky opponent to get the best out of you. So yeah, medals are medals. If I hadn’t gotten one I’d have been very upset, but it wouldn’t have been the end of the day, because a medal doesn’t define me as a person.

“I am more than just a boxer. I am a person and a human being and I have a loving family and a great community and I have a fantastic job, so!”

Team Ireland Leader for Boxing, Bernard Dunne added: ”It was a very controlled performance. It was a very awkward opponent, but Kellie figured her out quite quickly.

“The tactical plan going in, that was worked on over the last couple of days, worked to a tee. It’s great to get past the next step, great to move forward. I’m delighted for Kellie, it’s a well-earned medal.”

Updated at 5.53am to include reaction from Kellie Harrington. Updated at 7.14am with further reaction from Kellie Harrington and Bernard Dunne.

About the author:

Ciarán Kennedy

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