‘It hasn’t even hit yet’: Kellie Harrington overwhelmed by Olympic victory

Irish boxer pays tribute to coaches after tactical masterclass in lightweight final

“I have no words,” said Kellie Harrington after winning the lightweight Olympic gold medal in Tokyo’s Kokugikan Arena.

“I’m just ... like, the hard work, dedication and sacrifice that has gone into this. The lonely moments, the tears, you know what it is like. Me family knows, me coach know, the coaches here know. It hasn’t even hit yet. I am crying because I have a sense of relief to be honest with out. When I get back and in my room on my own or when I get up to the team it will hit. I’m just relieved.”

Harrington had huge expectations placed on her shoulders coming in to the Olympic Games but she wasn’t feeling it against Brazil’s Beatriz Ferreira.

“Do you know, I never have any expectations coming in to tournaments,” she said.

“That’s the thing. Come in and expect to perform. My expectation is performance, relaxations keeping control and doing what I can do and focussing on me, like, and then good things happen. When you can do all these little things good things come after that. Expectations, I don’t really have any.

“Obviously I do love that I have this medal but it is step-by-step to get there. Performance is key. If you don’t perform well then you can’t move on to the next stage so there’s no point in setting goals. I don’t go out going, ‘I want a gold medal, I want a gold medal’ because if the shit hits the fan then you don’t get anything.”

The fight went entirely as Harrington expected with the young Brazilian coming forward from the bell in an effort to exert pressure.

“Yeah, it went exactly the way the coaches had said. That’s exactly what they had said. John (Conlan) and Zaur (Antia) had it to a tee and Noel Burke, me club coach, had it to a tee. They work together. My club coach and the high-performance coaches work together and when they work together this is what happens. This is everything going in harmony and here we are. I’m the product of my boxing club and the high-performance unit working together.”

Even going down 3-2 in the first round and trailing her opponent, Harrington stuck to her tactics of scoring from a distance and keeping away from the flying fists of Ferreira. But was she concerned?

“No, there’s no point in being concerned because if you get concerned you go out and start making mistakes and rushing things and getting caught. My opponent was fantastic, absolutely fantastic. Great counter-puncher, very, very strong and you got to keep calm and composed and fight your fight, no someone else’s. That’s the key to performance. Perform well and the rest will look after itself.

“I’m an Olympic champion but it doesn’t define me as a person,” added Harrington.

“I’ll be home, I’d say it will be a bit mental, but I will be going back to work, either in two weeks or three weeks. We’ll have to wait and see on that one and ask Karen and Linda first, when are they going to let me back in but I’ll be back to work and doing my normal thing and that keeps me grounded. My circle is very small and it will be staying very small.

“I just want to keep doing what I’m doing. There’s nothing going to change from here out. I’m not going to be changing from here out. I’m not going to be thinking something I’m not. I’ll just continue to be this way apart from having me gold medal and that’s it. I’m not going to change. Everything stays the same, my feet stay on the ground.”

Bring the medal to work?

“Oh, I will be bringing the medal to work. I’m sure there will be a little party for me in work with my St Mary’s Ward so I am looking forward to that.”

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