Kellie Harrington follows in Katie Taylor’s footsteps to join Ireland’s gold medal club

Dubliner becomes just the third female ever to win Olympic gold for Ireland

Ireland’s Kellie Harrington celebrates with her gold medal alongside silver medalist Beatriz Iasmin Soares Ferreira of Brazil after their lightweight final in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

It ended fast and it will last forever and it happened just after 2pm on a rainy day in Tokyo.

Where to begin?

Trying to put into some sane context just what Kellie Anne Harrington had done on the last day of the Tokyo Olympics, winning a gold medal in the women’s boxing lightweight final to carve her name and face into history.

She had just nine minutes to decide her fate, which ended with Harrington becoming only the third ever Irish woman to win an Olympic gold medal, only the ninth Irish person ever to win a gold medal in all. Two of those came earlier in these Games thanks to Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy.

Harrington’s teammates cheer her on during the final. Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images

It means it’s only the third time in Olympic history, too, that Team Ireland will leave an Olympics with two gold medals.

Harrington came in first wearing red, from the right of the arena to Sinead O’Connor’s version of the Foggy Dew. Representing Brazil in the red corner was Beatriz Ferreira. It was a cagey fight and, in truth, an incredibly close fight, Ferreira certainly winning the first round, only for Harrington to win the second and third, and with that a points decision that placed a picture of joy in her face that will last forever too.

Olympic champion, Olympic gold medal winner, immortal in her own event and one more rare and lasting place in the reels of Irish sporting history.

For the Dublin woman it also follows that lasting forever moment of Katie Taylor winning Olympic gold in this very same event in London 2012, the first-time women’s boxing was introduced onto the Olympic stage.

Before last Thursday week, down at Sea Forest Waterway, only six Irish people, four men and two women, had ever experienced becoming an Olympic champion and Olympic gold medal winner since the country was first allowed to compete for itself as the Free State in time for the 1924 Olympics in Paris.

O’Donovan and McCarthy got to write their special chapter of their own, the first Olympic champions, the first gold medal winners for Irish rowing, and now Harrington joints the most exclusive club in Irish sporting history.

As moments go these are utterly life-changing too, as the previous eight Irish gold medal winners will have discovered in their own different ways: before Tokyo they were Dr Pat O’Callaghan in 1928 and 1932, Bob Tisdall in 1932 and Ronnie Delany in 1956, boxers Michael Carruth in 1992 and Taylor in 2012, and swimmer Michelle Smith in 1996.

Now with O’Donovan and McCarthy we have Harrington, who has now experienced a soft rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann and the raising of the tricolour inside the Kokugikan Arena, and another moment in Irish sporting history that will last forever.