Olympics TV View: Hakuna Matata, our new national motto

Inspirational Kellie Harrington is ensuring that we’ve been breakfasting in style

Ireland’s Kellie Harrington after she defeated Sudaporn Seesondee of Thailand. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ireland’s Kellie Harrington after she defeated Sudaporn Seesondee of Thailand. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

You’d be close enough to saying ‘pass the salt, Jacqui’, ‘more toast, David?’, so accustomed have we become to having breakfast with the Hurley woman and the Gillick lad these past couple of weeks. It is, we’re told, the most important meal of the day and on Thursday morning it proved to be an exceptionally fancy one. It was a case of, ‘would you like a silver medal with your rashers?’

Come Sunday, of course, it could be gold with our sausages, Kellie Harrington ensuring that we’ve been breakfasting in style of late, her victory over Sudaporn Seesondee making that 5.59am alarm clock call more than worth it, if still a little traumatic.

David was bedecked in an Irish shirt for the occasion, hinting that he wouldn’t be rooting for Sudaporn Seesondee, while Jacqui was in a yellow/orangey top, their positioning in their outdoor studio leading her to liken them to the Ivory Coast flag.

Sinead O’Connor serenaded Kellie in to the ring – probably not actually in person – and off we went. It was, as Hugh Cahill described it, a cagey affair, the referee urging the two fighters to throw some punches rather than just go for a wander in the ring. So Kellie obliged, throwing lefts so sweet Hugh was purring.

Waiting for the judges’ scores was a little like Eurovision time, when you end up holding a personal grudge against the nations that give you nul points. Looking at you, Kazakhstan and Morocco. Not they gave Kellie nul, but they gave Seesondee more. Still, 3-2 for our lass.

Round two and Hugh was beginning to panic. “She’s barely landed a punch,” he fretted, so Kellie sought to ease his nerves. “That’s more like it!”

“Up in two, down in one and all square in two,” said Hugh of the judges’ scoring, Cuba and Morocco (again) off our Christmas card list for life.

Final round. By now you’d have regretted eating that fourth sausage, the tension of it all doing nothing for the digestion. Every time Kellie landed one of those hooky things, Seesondee responded in kind, by now the outcome of the contest, to the untrained eye at least, hovering in the Tokyo air above the Ryogoku Kokugikan boxing centre.

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“Harrington with a bit of a smile on her face,” noted Hugh as the seconds counted down, as we were left with egg on ours (literally, like) after the Cuban judge voted for Ireland. Back on the Christmas card list.

But the wait was interminable. “The winner on points by split decision . . . ”, and then we had the Japanese translation . . . “ . . . in red” . . . “SHE’S DONE IT!”

Hugh, no more than ourselves, was beside himself. “AN OLYMPIC FINAL! AN OLYMPIC FINAL! HAKUNA MATATA, NO WORRIES!”

Seesondee smiled and hugged the victor, leaving us yet again wondering how boxers can lose so graciously having just had lumps knocked out of them by the person they’re hugging.

Joe Stack, meanwhile, asked Kellie if the hooks did the damage. “I haven’t a clue what did the damage,” she laughed, “I can’t remember to be honest what went on in there – but something did the work to win the fight.”

An Olympic final? “As my brother says, the last mile is never crowded, that’s the way it does feel sometimes, it does feel very lonely, but that’s the difference, to be able to hold on in there and keep it going. Hakuna Matata!”

“Hakuna Matata to you,” said Joe, repeating our new national motto.

Over to the tricolour-festooned Portland Row where the Harrington family were jiggin’ and reelin’ on the street, car horns hootin’, and neighbours hoping for a lie-in spittin’. Parents Christy and Yvonne and brother Joel were beaming, if not their dog. “We’ll have to get a vet to look after him, he’s in shock, never mind us,” said Christy.

“I was sitting out the back praying, as usual,” said Yvonne, “listening to them inside. I’m so proud of her, she just wants to make people happy, that’s the way she always was.”

“She’s just in dreamland,” said Joel. “This is for when she had a fight years ago and it didn’t go her way. All the times she sat in the kitchen crying to my Da. It’s for her coaches who put endless work in, for the women on the corner. There’s not a lot to be happy about at the moment. Now there is. That’s what this is about. Kellie didn’t get here three weeks ago. Kellie got here 10, 12 years ago. It’s been a lifetime’s work for her and she’s getting what she deserves.”

Dreamland, all right.

“You’re going to have another 6am start on Sunday, Ireland,” said Jacqui.

Rashers, sausages and gold? Oh, go on then.

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