Olympic TV View: Tears all round as Kellie Harrington wins her gold

It was an emotional ride whether you were in Tokyo, at Portland Row or on the couch

Only three years to Paris, but it might take that long for the nation to regain its composure after events in Tokyo in the early hours of Sunday morning. Not a dry eye to be found. Magic. Pure unadulterated magic.

"I didn't really think many people would get up and watch it . . . it is quite early in the morning," said Kellie Harrington later in the day when Peter Collins showed her footage of the reaction in Portland Row to Hugh Cahill uttering the immortal line: "SHE'S DONE IT, SHE'S DONE IT!" If there was a roof over the place, it would have ended up on Jupiter.

True, some of us haven’t been up that early on a Sunday since we were three months’ old and in need of a bottle, and we got quare looks from the dog when the telly was turned on at 5.30am, but it’s not every Sunday morning that one of your own is going for gold.

“Portland Row is wide awake with nervous anticipation, and not because they heard our Marty was in town,” said Peter, the Harrington family finding the Morrissey man at their front door before the day had even dawned.


Back in the studio, Eric Donovan and Kenny Egan were, very classily, dressed to the nines for the day that was in it, Eric stressing the need to "stay relaxed for as long as possible", leaving us wondering if that advice was directed at Kellie or ourselves. "Well, I hope she isn't as nervous as we are," said Peter, so he was wondering the same.


She looked pretty nerveless, though, when, once again, Sinead O'Connor sang her in to the arena, and even after Beatriz Ferreira won the first round 3-2 she kept her head when the rest of us were losing ours and wishing we were in the back yard with her Ma.

It’s difficult to summarise rounds two and three because they weren’t visible from behind the cushion, but hats off to the Hugh fella, he called them impeccably when we feared he was just trying to keep our spirits up by being buoyant.

The fight of her life. But still, the wait for the decision was gut-wrenching, Hugh sending us all towards Jupiter with “SHE’S DONE IT, SHE’S DONE IT!” And instead of Riverdancing around the ring, the first thing Kellie did was hug and console her opponent before falling to her knees. By now, even the dog was crying.

The lads in the studio were close enough to tears too and there were a heap more of them in Portland Row when we were taken back there, Peter, who played a blinder through these Olympics, guessing that the Morrissey man would be in the midst of "the best Marty Party he's ever been at". He was too.

“She really did well in the second round, didn’t she,” he said to Kellie’s Ma, Yvonne.

“I don’t know, I didn’t watch it,” she said, opting to stay out the back again.

Her brother Joel, as he has done after all her fights in Tokyo, somehow found the words to sum it all up. “She won gold for our road, our community, our county, our country, our sport,” he said. “Everything she gets, every ounce of it, she deserves.”


Back to Tokyo for the medal ceremony. By now some of us were resorting to loo paper because the tissues were used up. And then it was on to the kitchen towel when Joe Stack had his chat with Kellie. She was drained, not from the nine minutes, but from the lifetime of work she'd put in to reaching this point.

“I’m like a fluffy pigeon going around, I’m dark grey at this stage, I am,” she laughed. “What a journey. Just being here, putting our little nation on the map, this is the stuff of dreams.”

“If there were gold medals for interviews, she should get one of them too, they’ve been absolutely brilliant,” said Eric, before Peter showed him and Kenny footage of the three celebrating in the studio when they knew Kellie had struck gold. Pandemonium, Peter and Eric jiggin’ and reelin’, Kenny staying in his seat applauding. “I’m like a walrus,” he said, his colleagues dissolving.

It was, he said, a “masterclass”, Eric describing the performance as “flawless”, but when Peter spoke to Kellie later she couldn’t give any assessment of it at all, everything by then a blur. Although, pointing at her gold medal, she guessed it must have been all right.

How did she feel? “It’s like you’re a balloon and someone is letting the air out bit by bit . . . when they announced it, ah, what a relief.” The tears flowed again when she saw that footage from home. “Wow, wow, wow”, she said.

Which is pretty much what the rest of us were saying about Kellie Harrington. Magic.