What A Glorious European Games Means For Irish Boxers' Olympic Prospects

What A Glorious European Games Means For Irish Boxers' Olympic Prospects

Less than three years after the tribulations of Rio, Irish boxing is blossoming again.

An 11-strong side travelled to the European Games in Minsk this month and already they have secured five bronze medals with that tally likely to increase with more Irish boxers entering the ring later on this evening, including arguably the team's best gold medal prospect.

So far, all of Kurt Walker, Grainne Walsh, Michaela Walsh, Regan Buckley and Michael Nevin have won at least a bronze medal with silver and gold still up for grabs as the tournament progresses. Later on this evening, the green wave will arrive in the Belorussian arena again.

World champion Kellie Harrington and Aoife O'Rourke, a European under-22 silver medallist, are the next of the Irish contenders to step over the apron in the hope of securing two more bronze medals for the Irish.

But how does the highly impressive showing leave Ireland fixed for next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed that they suspended the international boxing federation (AIBA) today, meaning the IOC will officially take over the qualification and running of the boxing event at next year's Games. Issues surrounding the governance and finances at the IABA saw the executive board of the IOC previously recommend suspending the boxing association and the IOC duly voted on implementing these recommendations today.


With AIBA events such as this year's World Championships in doubt, qualifier events are now being organisaed for next year by the taskforce set up to implement the recommendations voted on in Switzerland.

Each athlete will be given two opportunities to qualify for the Games - through either a continental or a world qualifying tournament.

According to the IOC director Kit McConnell, China, Buenos Aires, London and Dakar are just some of the cities being touted as possible locations for the qualifying events, set to commence next January.

The European qualifying event, most likely to take place in London, will take place from the end of February to the beginning of March, immediately after the Asia/Oceania event in January and the African event in February. The America qualifier will take place at the end of March before athletes will be provided with one final opportunity to qualify for the Games at a world qualifying tournament in May. That will take place in Tokyo.

The results at the European Games in Minsk is positive news for Irish boxing ahead of the upcoming qualifiers where all qualifying spots for Tokyo will be decided. But the issue surrounding judges remains as the IOC will most likely use AIBA judges for their qualifying tournaments. Nevertheless, although the suspended association look set to be providing judges, they will have no role in appointing them.

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Aonghus Ó Maicín

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