Kellie Harrington withdraws from European final with injury

Kurt Walker is Ireland’s last gold medal hope in the men’s bantamweight division

Ireland’s Kellie Harrington was forced to withdraw from her women’s lightweight final in Minsk. Photo: Soenar Chamid/Inpho

Ireland’s Kellie Harrington was forced to withdraw from her women’s lightweight final in Minsk. Photo: Soenar Chamid/Inpho

 

Irish lightweight World Champion Kellie Harrington has had to pull out of her European Games final in Minsk on Sunday.

Harrington, who was due to face Finland’s Mira Potkonen for the gold medal, sustained a hand injury in her semi-final win over Sweden’s Agnes Alexiusson and was deemed unfit to box.

The 38-year-old Potkonen was the boxer who knocked Katie Taylor out of the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 at the quarterfinal stage.

Kurt Walker is now Ireland's last gold medal hope when he fights Mykolo Butsenko in the men's 56kg final at 11.30am.

Every attempt was made by the medical staff to manage the injury to Harrington’s right thumb to give her an opportunity to compete. However, on Sunday morning the decision was made that she would be withdrawn.

“I’m disappointed to not be competing but I understand that there’s a bigger picture to be taken into account,” said Harrington. “It would be too much of a risk to go in there and have another setback. I totally respect the advice of the medical staff and the decision of the performance director.

“While I’m disappointed, I’m still going to be there for Kurt my teammate, as captain. It’s been an honour to be captain of this boxing team, and I’m going to be cheering him on and I am can’t wait to watch our team collect their medals, and I will carry my silver medal with pride.

“I’m looking forward to getting home, recovering and getting back at it as soon as possible. We came out here having had a fantastic training camp and were excited about testing ourselves against the best in Europe blocks, and we did that. It’s been a fantastic competition for the Irish boxing team and I’m going to continue to trust the team that’s supporting me.”

Harrington will take home the silver medal in the 60kg division and aim to get healthy for the World Championships later this year. Given the huge rift in the international governing body of the sport, IABA and the recent threat of bankruptcy, there is some anxiety as to whether the championships will take place.

“It’s been a fantastic competition for Kellie,” added Performance Director and former professional world champion Bernard Dunne. “It’s unfortunate this injury has arisen, but the right decision has been made that she doesn’t compete. It is unfortunate that hand injuries are part and parcel of boxing, but we need to manage it the right way to ensure a quick return to action.”

“Kellie has Europeans and Worlds before the year is out and upcoming Olympic qualification events that we are looking forward to. In making this decision we had to take in the big picture to ensure that we don’t further injure the hand.”

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