Family of boxer Aidan Walsh ‘over the moon’ at guaranteed medal

Belfast boxer beat Merven Clair in Kokugikan Arena to secure at least bronze medal

Ireland’s Aidan Walsh celebrates beating Merven Clair  with coach Zaur Anitia. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ireland’s Aidan Walsh celebrates beating Merven Clair with coach Zaur Anitia. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

The family of Belfast boxer Aidan Walsh, who is now guaranteed to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games, have said they are “over the moon” following his recent win.

The 24-year-old guaranteed himself at least a bronze medal with a 4-1 win over Mauritian Merven Clair in the Kokugikan Arena.

It brings to three the number of medals Ireland have won in the first week of competition, two in rowing and now the Belfast welterweight, who won his quarter-final largely in the first two rounds of the bout.

Speaking about Walsh’s win on Friday morning, his mother Martine told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland she was “so pleased” and proud of him.

“I was very, very nervous, but he got the win and now I’m over the moon that it’s over,” she said.

Damian, his father, said it was great to have a bronze medal “in the bag”, and the family and his coaching team were behind Walsh to continue on for the gold medal.

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“I had no doubt in my mind that he could do this. He’s the kind of guy who would just want to do things his way, do it the right way, but as we always say, if you’re going to do it, do it right. His motto is get in get the job done,” he said.

“In terms of Aidan and the way he performs, he’s very humble, very nice. The kind of guy who would say hello to anyone in the street. Aidan’s way is a very nice way,” he told the radio programme.

All the family watching back home were “very proud,” and the boxing win followed years of hard work, his father said.

Paul Johnson, who has coached Walsh for the last five years, said securing a medal was almost “like a pressure relief” heading into the next fight.

“They sacrifice so much and they deserve the highest achievements and Aidan today has won that medal, but I know that he will aim for gold,” he said.

Walsh took the fight 29-28, 28-29, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27 and moves on to the semi-final where he meets Britain’s Pat McCormack for the prize of an Olympic final.

Speaking to RTÉ Sport, Walsh said he would go into the semi-final fight with the belief he could beat anybody.

“He faces Ireland’s Aidan Walsh, that’s the way I’m looking at it. It’s just going in there with the belief that you can beat anybody, with the right tactics and coaches. I’m getting better and better every fight,” he said.

Walsh paid tribute to his “best friend” and older sister Michaela, who also competed in Tokyo and was in the Kokugikan Arena to cheer him on.

“When I was younger, everybody was afraid of my big sister, it wasn’t a big brother. I would do anything for her and she would do anything for me.

“If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be here because I would have stopped boxing. When I was younger, running about the streets, she was the one who told me ‘wind your neck in’ and saw the talent I had,” he said.