There was heartbreak for Belfast featherweight Michaela Walsh in Minsk on Saturday afternoon after she lost out on a 4-1 split decision to Stanimira Petrova of Bulgaria in their final at the European Games.
It was a cagey battle from the off, with both boxers working hard to get the upper hand and with Petrova favouring an upright style, Walsh had to work harder to adjust. An equally close second round followed, with Walsh getting some key jabs in, but Petrova shaded the final round and secured the 4-1 split decision ruling to secure the gold medal.
Speaking afterwards, a devastated Walsh said: “I’m really heartbroken but, at the end of the day, this is all with an eye to Tokyo and I just have to accept what it is. I thought that I got it, but it is what is, and we’ll just have to move on and get back to the drawing board I guess.”
Meanwhile, Chloe and Sam Magee will return to Ireland on Monday with a bronze medal around their necks following a superb week in Minsk.
The Donegal siblings bowed out of the Games this morning, losing out in two straight sets (21-8, 21-18) to European champions and Commonwealth Games gold medal winners Gabrielle and Chris Adcock of Britain.
The British pairing, who are favourites to take the gold at this tournament, got off to a blazing start, driving into a strong early lead as the Magees took time to settle. They were ruthless on the backcourt, powering home some aggressive points and forcing the Magees to play to their rapid-fire pace. They drove on to take the first game, 21-8.
A quick regroup from Chloe and Sam alongside older brother and coach, Dan Magee, at the break saw them come out stronger in the second game. Matching the Adcocks score for score, Sam dominated the back court, while Chloe pulled off some key hard shots to keep the game in the melting pot. A rattled GB rallied well though down the stretch and finished strong in the end to take the win 21-18 and advance to the final.
Despite the disappointment of today’s match, the Magees were in good form coming off the court in the knowledge that they had matched their bronze medal achievement from Baku in 2015.
“It’s so nice to contribute a medal, especially with the boxers doing brilliant so it’s nice that badminton can also put in a medal for Team Ireland,” Sam said afterwards. “We are super proud of course, these things don’t come around that often and we know how special it is to win bronze.
“We were a little bit too slow at getting started,” he continued. “As we worked our way into the game, we got a bit more comfortable. They’ve got a lot of skills, they’re extremely fast which is the first thing: you have to be able to match their speed, and we didn’t for long parts of the game. Once we did, we felt it was quite even towards the end and we just ran out of time.”
“I’m just glad that we kept fighting,” Chloe agreed. “We were able to turn it around and tried to perform at the best that we can perform. We know that we could do better than the first set, so we didn’t put our heads down, which was good. I think today they were better than us, but we can be very proud of how we performed this week.”
In track cycling Robyn Stewart's Sprint campaign was ended by Italian Miriam Vece in the Match Sprint Repechages, with Vece taking control of the race from the start, outsprinting the Belfast sprinter on the line.
Speaking after her repechage a disappointed Stewart said: “It’s pretty disappointing, I’m pretty far off myself. I’m focusing on getting stronger for the Keirin, which I showed yesterday, so I can’t be too disappointed my Keirin has taken a hit. You learn from these experiences.”
Shannon McCurley has started the four race Omnium well, finishing fourth in the Scratch Race and eighth in the Tempo. Next up is the Elimination Race followed by the Points. Points are awarded according to ranking for each race, and the winner of the Omnium is the rider with the most points after the final Points Race.