Portland Row ‘will be out screaming’ for Kellie Harrington in next Olympic fight

Celebrations in Dublin’s north inner city after boxer wins Olympic bronze medal

Christy and Yvonne Harrington at their home in Portland Row. The boxer’s mother says ‘she was always very determined, even from a young age when there were no other girls in the boxing club.’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Christy and Yvonne Harrington at their home in Portland Row. The boxer’s mother says ‘she was always very determined, even from a young age when there were no other girls in the boxing club.’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

On Portland Row in Dublin’s north inner city on Tuesday morning, cars beeped and drivers shouted, “Go on Kellie”, as they passed boxer Kellie Harrington’s parents’ house, following her win in Tokyo last night that secures her an Olympic medal.

Tricolour bunting was draped across the street and “good luck/áth mór” posters were placed in the windows of almost every house. Harrington’s mother, Yvonne, said she was “very proud and absolutely over the moon” for her daughter.

Harrington achieved a unanimous decision by the judges in her fight against Imane Khelif of Algeria – guaranteeing her at least an Olympic bronze medal,. She will now face Thailand’s Sudaporn Seesondee in a semi-final on Thursday, with the prospect of a silver or gold medal ahead of her.

“I was delighted. She did really well, she has always been very focused, and now she’s focused on the next fight,” her mother told The Irish Times.

“She was always very determined, even from a young age when there were no other girls in the boxing club – she kept asking if she could get in, and eventually they got fed up and let her in.”

More cars beeped at the family as Yvonne and Harrington’s father, Christy, stood at their doorstep, with their window covered in cards made by children at the local school. “They made them all for us and their teacher dropped them up to us,” Yvonne said.

Yvonne doesn’t watch her daughter’s fights live because it makes her nervous, but she watches for the reactions of her family, and always watches them “after we know the result”.

“We’re looking forward to Thursday now when I sit in the bedroom praying again. I’ve never prayed as much in my life.”

Outside the family home, Willie Dowdall, a friend of Harrington’s who used to train with her in Glasnevin, said he was “up all night watching the fight”.

“It was nerve-wracking. It felt brilliant when she won, it was just a relief. She deserves it after all the years she’s put into boxing,” he said.

Children in the area will “grow up with a bit more buzz in them now”, Mr Dowdall said, adding that “all the kids look up to her, the girls and the lads as well”.

“Loads of them just want to meet her and train with her. She does an awful lot of training with the kids. She’s brilliant,” he said.

Across the street, “super fan” Lily Fagan said Harrington’s win was “great for the area”.

“The area needs something positive like this. She’s a hard worker and we’re all behind her. She has one medal now but by the sacred heart of Jesus she will get the next one,” she said.

Asked if she was excited about Harrington’s next fight on Thursday, Ms Fagan said, “I’ll be out screaming for her. I support her all the way.”

‘So proud’

Earlier on Tuesday, Harrington’s father, Christy, told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland he was confident watching her: “You know by her getting into the ring that she’s focused, focused – you just know she’s going to give everything. It was like when we were kids staying up to watch Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier except it was our Kellie.”

Christopher, Harrington’s brother, said he was so proud of her sister, adding: “Look at the street, it’s just because of Kellie. It’s fever pitch on the road.”

He said the family is “hoping for more” than the guaranteed bronze in Thursday’s semi-final. “You’re nervous for her, but in the fight she’s smiling and enjoying herself, there’s nothing like it, it’s class,” he said.

“Even aside from the Olympics just looking at your sister on the telly, enjoying herself, smiling in the ring, that in itself is priceless. The fact that it’s at the Olympics, that’s a bonus. A bonus for the family.”

Cllr Christy Burke a former Lord Mayor and Harrington family friend said a “golden cloud” now hangs over the area which he predicted would see an increase of young women join boxing clubs.

“Everyone is filled with joy and emotions not only for Kellie but for her entire family, support teams, trainers and for Portland Row where she hails from. The entire country is now behind her which is absolutely fantastic,” he said.

“I’m delighted for Kellie, it’s a well-earned medal.”

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