Walker shines in Minsk to land European gold for Ireland

He beat Ukranian Mykola Butsenko on Sunday morning.

KURT WALKER HAS won Ireland’s first gold medal of the European Games after his unanimous decision victory over Ukranian Mykola Butsenko.

Kurt Walker celebrates with his gold medal Kurt Walker celebrates his gold medal triumph. Source: Soenar Chamid/INPHO

The Lisburn native edged a tight contest to emerge victorious in the 56kg decider on Sunday morning.

Having beaten British rival Peter McGrail yesterday to book his place in this morning’s gold medal fight, the 24-year-old traded ferociously with Butsenko to claim a close decision victory.

In the final round, Walker opened a cut above the eye of his opponent as a flurry of punches landed. The number two seed had no answer as Walker expertly picked off his opponent on his way to European glory.

“I can’t describe how I’m feeling, it’s unbelievable,” he said after the medal ceremony.

I came here and believed I could win gold, but for it to actually happen is on a different level. It really is. The coaches need so much credit. The gameplan was unbelievable.

“I knew it was working. I came back after the first round and they were buzzing. They’re never usually like that. Usually they’re asking me to do more and more, but they were buzzing.”

He added: “Two years ago in the European Championships, he beat me in the semi-final 5-0. It shows that I’ve grown so much as a boxer and as a man. It’s good to see hard work paying off.”

The win is a welcome result for Team Ireland, who this morning were forced to announce the withdrawal of gold medal hope and world champion Kellie Harrington from her 60kg final with a hand injury.

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Elsewhere today, cyclist Mia Griffin finished the Women’s Individual Pursuit with a personal best time of 3.40.444.

Lydia Boylan and Lydia Gurley, meanwhile, finished fifth in the Women’s Madison.

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