Bronze medallist Clare Grace looks to Worlds with greater ambition

‘It’s all just learning and building from here on, it’s the start of a long journey for all of us,’ DCU student says

Clare Grace with trainer Gerry Storey after  her defeat to England’s  Stacey Copeland at the European Women’s Boxing Championships in Bucharest. Photograph: Octavian Cocolos/Inpho

Clare Grace with trainer Gerry Storey after her defeat to England’s Stacey Copeland at the European Women’s Boxing Championships in Bucharest. Photograph: Octavian Cocolos/Inpho

 

After a day or two of reflection, Ireland’s only European bronze medallist, Clare Grace, will take her ribbon and medal back to DCU, where she is studying sports science. Only then maybe she can begin to feel pleased with what she achieved over the week in Bucharest.

Grace (20), from Kilkenny, can now look towards the World Championships with greater ambition and, after the disappointment of defeat in the quarterfinal, take a clearer view of what lies ahead. There is work to be done and still disappointment lingering, but her defeat by England’s silver medallist Stacey Copeland can also propel her forward.

Ireland’s women’s boxing team is in its embryonic stages but with proper training and coaching structures, there is reason to be optimistic for boxers other than peerless Katie Taylor.

“I was gutted when I lost,” said Grace. “It’s hard to be happy to receive a medal when you lose a silver medal. Now that I have the medal in my hand, it’s an absolutely amazing achievement.

“We’re only a new team. There is totally more to come in the future. Obviously it was only Katie here in the final today and we’re all excited for her, but we’re all proud of the performances over the week.”

Grace just finished her second year exams before she arrived to Romania to take part in her first major boxing event. She also hopes she will be going into third year in DCU, when she will likely miss a sizable chunk of her first term as the Irish team d looks to Korea and the World Championships. The opponents there will be significantly hotter than this week.

“We’ll be looking at performances and see where we can improve, what we did right, what we did wrong,” she said. “It’s all just learning and building from here on. It’s the start of a long journey for all of us.”

A rest period kicks in now but the summer months will not be strung out with student high jinks for Grace or any of the team – Michaela Walsh, Joanne Lambe and Ceire Smith. If Taylor believes she needs to further improve to defend her world title, there is worthwhile hard graft ahead for the others too.

“I’d love to see myself physically stronger and more powerful,” Grace said. “Hopefully it will come with age and more training. As I get older and continue to train, that will come with it, I hope. It’s something I can work on and next time I think that won’t be an issue at all.

“Korea is in November so that’s a couple of months away, but I’ll get the head set and get ready for them, hopefully get another medal to bring home.”

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