Kellie Harrington won gold in the lightweight boxing final in Tokyo after delivering an exhibition of the sweet science in her unanimous decision victory over reigning world champion Beatriz Ferreira of Brazil.
Harrington weathered a punishing opening round at the Kokugikan Arena in which she was caught off-balance by one of the many flurries by her opponent, who was up on three of the five judges’ scorecards after the first three minutes.
But the stylish Portland Row pugilist made the necessary technical adjustments, switching to southpaw and boxing behind her jab expertly to control the distance, with Ferreira often swinging at fresh air as she lost the second round on every card.
Ferreira showed improvements in the final round but absorbed a big left hand from Harrington, while the pair traded big shots in the final few seconds before embracing each other at the final bell.
Harrington was once again favoured by all five judges in the final round and was understandably overcome with emotion after being announced as the winner on every scorecard.
The success of the 31-year-old marks the first time Ireland has won two gold medals in two different sports at the same Olympics, with rowers Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan also triumphing in the men’s lightweight double sculls.
Mira Potkonen of Finland and Sudaporn Seesondee of Thailand both won bronze medals as losing semi-finalists, with the latter Harrington’s victim in the penultimate stage of the competition.
So, Ireland brings home four medals from the Tokyo Games, two gold and two bronze. But none will be celebrated as much as Harrington’s success as she has stolen the nation’s heart with her performances inside the ring and her interviews outside of it.
So 29 years to the day since Michael Carruth won Ireland’s first ever gold medal at the Bacelona Olympics, Kellie Harrington has equalled that achievement. Let the celebrations begin.