‘Our Kellie is an Olympic gold medallist’: Portland Row erupts in joy

‘All she really wanted was to see the people smiling - make people happy,’ says proud mother

Kellie Harrington’s family neighbourhood erupted in joy at her gold medal win in Tokyo. Video: Enda O'Dowd

 

Ticker tape showered across Portland Row in Dublin’s north inner-city as Kellie Harrington’s family neighbourhood erupted in joy at her gold medal win in Tokyo.

Crowds gathered to watch the final bout against Brazil’s Beatriz Ferreira on a large screen which had been erected at the end of the street where she grew up.

Her family, including parents Christy and Yvonne, joined in the celebrations - although the latter continued her habit of avoiding watching her daughter fight.

The gold medallist’s mother confirmed she was “out the back… in the garden” throughout the bout. Of her daughter’s victory, Yvonne added: “All she really wanted was to see the people smiling - make people happy.”

Kellie’s parents, Yvonne and Christy Harrington, celebrate her Tokyo Olympic Gold medal win. Photograph: Alan Betson
Kellie’s parents, Yvonne and Christy Harrington, celebrate her Tokyo Olympic Gold medal win. Photograph: Alan Betson

Seconds after Kellie’s win, a dozens of locals immediately ran towards her home to congratulate Kellie’s family.

Christy Harrington ran outside with tears in his eyes and a fist in the air. It was “a magnificent feeling” to watch his daughter win the gold medal, he said, adding: “We always knew she had the capabilities to do this. And now we can say it. Our Kellie is an Olympic gold medallist.”

Every car that passed through Portland Row tooted its horn as crowds sang the lyrics to Eye Of The Tiger outside the family home. Champagne corks were popped, and tricolour flags waved around as people danced on the street.

Kellie’s win “meant the world” to the community, her brother Joel said.

“This is what it’s all for. There’s old ladies this means the world to, there’s a fella over there necking a bottle of Heineken. Everyone is just so proud and that’s what Kellie does it for - the community. Kellie doesn’t box for Kellie, she boxes for us,” he said.

“This is a win for the community. She’s on another level and she’s put us on the map now.”

“She will just see this as another medal and she won’t think this is happening at home. She’ll think everyone is in their house going ‘Happy days’ but she’s in for a shock,” he said.

Kellie’s partner of 12 years, Mandy Loughlin, was with the family for the morning of the fight. Similarly to Kellie’s mother Yvonne, Mandy doesn’t watch her partner’s fights as they make her too nervous, but cheered her on and was greeted with hugs from Portland Row locals outside the home afterwards.

Arm in arm with Kellie’s brothers, parents and aunt, and with tears in her eyes, Mandy watched her partner receive the gold medal outside the house while holding a ‘Congratulations Kellie’ poster.

Kellie’s partner Mandy, parnts Yvonne and Christy and brothers Joel and Christopher celebrate outside their family home. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
Kellie’s partner Mandy, parnts Yvonne and Christy and brothers Joel and Christopher celebrate outside their family home. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The atmosphere on the street was “just amazing” and “everyone knew she would do it” said Shauna Duffy, Kellie’s cousin.

“We were running down Portland Row at five to six making sure we didn’t miss it. We didn’t know there was going to be a big screen. They’re all great in this community, always coming together to support each other,” she said.

Kellie’s win was “great for the kids in the area,” her aunt said, because seeing Kellie win the gold meant “they can do it too, and now it’s not impossible”. Another local woman remarked that it was going to “change the area forever”.

Neighbours and friends of Olympic Boxing Gold Medal Winner Kellie Harrington celebrate her Tokyo Olympic Gold medal win on Portland Row in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson
Neighbours and friends of Olympic Boxing Gold Medal Winner Kellie Harrington celebrate her Tokyo Olympic Gold medal win on Portland Row in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson

Kellie’s brother Christopher, who manages a ladies football team in Iceland, surprised his family by coming home to watch the fight. It was “magic” to watch it together and he “couldn’t wait” for his sister to come home on Tuesday to see the joy she had brought to her community in Dublin’s north inner city.

“This community is amazing. It’s what it’s all about, we all come together and support her and it will mean the world to Kellie.”

Looking out at dozens of locals singing and dancing on the street, Christopher said he “hasn’t ever seen anything like this and the fact it’s my own sister… I’m just so proud.”

Tributes

President Michael D Higgins was among those to pay tribute to the boxer, tweeting: “My warmest congratulations to Kellie Harrington on winning her gold medal at the Olympic Games. Hers is an exceptional achievement, and she is an inspiration for us all.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin tweeted: “Congratulations #kellieharrington on winning gold for Ireland in an epic Olympic final. Brilliant fight. Your family community and country overjoyed for you.”

St Vincent’s Hospital Fairview, where Harrington works, also sent a message of congratulations.

“This is such a proud achievement for Kellie, and for her family and many friends. She was an inspiration to all of us throughout this Olympic Games; getting to an Olympic final and taking home a gold medal is a remarkable achievement,” it said in a statement.

“Kellie is not just an outstanding sportswoman, but also a valued and dedicated staff member here at the hospital. We are so proud of her and we look forward to seeing her back here at the hospital, at a time that’s convenient for her, in the coming days.”

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