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Incredible day for the Walshes as siblings Michaela and Aidan qualify for first Olympics

The Belfast boxers sealed their places in Tokyo within 45 minutes of each other in Paris.

Aidan Walsh lands a right hand on his way to earning qualification for Tokyo.
Aidan Walsh lands a right hand on his way to earning qualification for Tokyo.
Image: Dave Winter/INPHO

FOUR YEARS SEPARATE Belfast siblings Michaela and Aidan Walsh but there were just 45 minutes between both siblings booking their places at their first Olympic Games at the European boxing qualifiers in Paris on Sunday.

Older sister Michaela, who turned 28 yesterday, got the job done in the women’s 57kg category, coasting past Sweden’s Stephanie Thour to officially book her Tokyo berth via a unanimous-decision win (30-27 x4, 29-28).

The highly decorated bantamweight was already almost sure of her place at the Games due to her position in the world rankings but left nothing to chance, bossing Thour on all fronts to guarantee qualification for Tokyo the conventional way and advance to the last four of the tournament.

Aidan faced a tough ask against the 69kg #4 seed Yevheni Barabandy of Ukraine but took a 3-2 split-decision victory to secure his own seat on the plane.

The 24-year-old boxed beautifully in a cagey first round before the fight deteriorated into something of a slog, with the Irishman doing enough in the eyes of three judges to earn the verdict (30-27, 29-28, 28-29, 29-28, 28-29) — much to the audible delight of his sister, who was extremely vocal throughout the bout.

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The Walshes are the first Irish boxing siblings ever to qualify for the Olympics. They join team-mates Brendan Irvine, Kurt Walker, Kellie Harrington and Aoife O’Rourke in the boxing team for Tokyo, while Emmett Brennan could make it a team of seven if he wins a box-off against Sweden’s Liridon Nuha tomorrow.

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