Michaela Walsh on the right side of split decision in Minsk

Belfast fighter wins opening bout at European Games

Belfast's Michaela Walsh is determined to put past disappointments behind her and use the European Games in Minsk as a springboard to success at next year's Tokyo Olympics.

The 26-year-old edged a split decision over Romania’s Lenuta Perijoc in her opening bout in the 57kg division, a welcome change for a fighter who is no stranger to controversial defeats.

Walsh thought she had done enough to beat Nicola Adams in their 2014 Commonwealth Games flyweight final, and also had to settle for silver in last year's Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Walsh, who is in her second year of competing in the featherweight class, said: “Every time I go away to a competition I always think of gold, and I really believe that this is my time.


“I’ve moved up in weight to chase my Olympic dream, and every morning when I wake up, Tokyo is what I visualise.

“This tournament in Minsk feels like a mini-Olympics for me. It’s all a stepping stone towards the main goal which is Tokyo.”

There were also wins for Ireland's Kurt Walker and Grainne Walsh in the afternoon session on Monday, the latter via split decision over Great Britain's Rosie Eccles.