Kellie Harrington still caught up in the whirlwind of Olympic gold

Dublin boxer says she hasn’t given much thought yet to what comes next

There is a quiet time of peace and reflection which comes after every great sporting success and, seven days after landing back home with an Olympic gold medal around her neck, Kellie Harrington is now the perfect picture of it.

It takes time, too, for that success to truly hit home, and speaking on Tuesday morning via Zoom, Harrington admits that process is still only getting going. After almost six weeks away in Japan for the Tokyo Olympics just being at home again is a special feeling in itself.

“It was just amazing,” she said of her Portland Row homecoming last Tuesday. “I have never experienced anything like that in my life, from the moment we left Ballybough, it was just amazing to see people shouting congratulations, shouting your name, shouting Emmet’s (Brennan) name and just genuinely happy, to see kids chasing the bus on their bicycles, calling your name and throwing teddy bears up.

“And then when you hit Portland Row, coming down by the Sunset (House pub), to see all your neighbours out on the road, shoulder to shoulder, shedding tears of joy and everyone being so happy, singing and dancing, dance club in the middle of it, it was just magic.


“A special moment. And it is something that will stick with me for the rest of my life, and for the kids who were there, it is something that will stick with them for the rest of their lives also.”

Any decision about a potential move into the professional arena is for another day, as she’s still reflecting on that exactly it is she achieved in Tokyo.

“I haven’t really yet, to be honest with you. Not with what I have achieved in the ring, but what I have achieved outside the ring. I have been more reflecting on that. I have just been thinking about how much I brought a nation to a standstill, a nation shed tears of happiness, feeling a bit normal throughout the two weeks that it was.

“Not forgetting about Covid, but having a bit of normality in their lives, that is what I have been thinking about more so than what I have achieved. Having the backing of a nation, that is what I have been reflecting on. It feels quite normal like any other competition, really. Except people know me a lot more now. It is just good to be home, I have been away for basically six weeks and it is nice to be home and do normal things and not have to worry about getting up and going training for a while.”

Her role as an FBD Insurance ambassador, one of the sponsors of the Olympic Federation of Ireland, will be among her many likely outlets in the coming weeks. She hasn’t yet watched back on any of her fights in Tokyo, and that is for another time too.

“No, I haven’t actually. I will probably watch it when I am getting ready for another tournament or when I am preparing to fight someone and if they are a bit similar to one of the girls I would have fought, will probably watch them then. But I wouldn’t be mad keen to watch any of them back, I never really watch my fights back to be honest. I don’t think I will.”

She is looking forward to returning to her first shift as a cleaner in St Vincent's Hospital Fairview this weekend, and is already giving some thought to getting back into the ring sooner rather than later.

“I suppose I’ve always had the mentality of ‘it’s just a fight, it’s just another fight’. I don’t want to downplay it. I know I should be really enjoying the glory and stuff like that but I don’t want to lose myself and I don’t want to downplay it. I need to find a good balance in between that.

“When the opportunity comes to get back into the ring, I don’t think it will be hard because that’s what I enjoy, I enjoy the build-up to getting there, I enjoy the love-hate relationship with boxing that I have before I step into the ring, the moment of ‘what am I doing here? This is my last fight, I’m never coming back again. This is my last fight, I’m telling you, I’m not joking you, I’m done after this’. I enjoy that, that’s what keeps me going. I think it will be good.

“I’m really looking forward to going back to my own boxing club, in St Mary’s in Tallaght, with Noel. I’m looking forward to doing pads and working on things. I feel I’m still the same boxer but I’ve just gotten a bit better in what I do, a little bit more polished and I still think there’s room. I don’t want to be saying ‘there’s loads of room for improvement, I’m only getting better’. I don’t want to be saying all that but I do feel like I can get one per cent better than I am and one per cent is a massive difference in the fight game. I’m looking forward to doing that, working on that kind of stuff with my club coach before I get back to the high performance if that’s what I’m going to do, I still don’t know what’s happening. We’ll take it day by day, it’s only a week or so since the final and it’s still a little bit of ‘I don’t know what’s happened’.”