Kurt Walker secures 5th Irish medal at European Games

Kurt Walker of Ireland with coaches John Conlan, left, and Zaur Antia following his Men’s Bantamweight bout victory against Zhirayr Sargsyan of Armenia at Uruchie Sports Palace on Day 4 of the Minsk 2019 2nd European Games in Minsk, Belarus. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Kurt Walker has secured Ireland's fifth medal at the European Games in Minsk this afternoon.

The Lisburn boxer is guaranteed at least a bantamweight bronze after his unanimous decision win over France's Samuel Kistohurry.

He was delighted to keep Team Ireland's great form in the ring going.

“It feels brilliant,” he reflected afterwards.

“It’s probably the first ever time I’ve fought in that style : he was too fit to keep off and he would have caught me on the back foot so I had to fight his style which I’ve never really done, so I’m just glad I tried it and won myself a medal. That’s two tough fights now, but I’m happy, I’m improving every time. Our team is flying at the moment so it’s brilliant.”

Earlier Grainne Walsh and Michaela Walsh booked their places in the semi-finals and are also assured of at least bronze.

Belfast featherweight Michaela Walsh shocked reigning world champion Ornella Wahner on a split decision.

Ireland's Michaela Walsh on her way to winning against Romania's Lenuta-Lacramioara Perijoc in the Women's Featherweight Boxing at Sport Palace Uruchie, during day four of the European Games 2019 in Minsk. (Martin Rickett/PA Wire)
Ireland's Michaela Walsh on her way to winning against Romania's Lenuta-Lacramioara Perijoc in the Women's Featherweight Boxing at Sport Palace Uruchie, during day four of the European Games 2019 in Minsk. (Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

“I feel great, I felt a bit surprised that I had a split but obviously I was against the current World Champion,” she said afterwards. “It was amazing to get that win. I had a tough draw, but that’ll make winning the gold medal more worth it.

“Since she won gold in my weight my eyes have been on her - I’ve been wanting to fight her for a long time. I boxed her as a youth boxer in the semi-finals of the World Championships, and she beat me by one point and stole my dream of becoming a youth world champion, so I wasn’t going to let her steal my dream of becoming a European Games champion. Thankfully I’m into the next stage now, but I’m not satisfied yet - the job’s not done yet.”

Offaly welterweight Grainne Walsh also upset the odds in her quarter-final, getting the unanimous decision over current European champion Elina Gustafsson.

Grainne Walsh of Ireland makes her way to the ring prior to her Women’s Featherweight bout against Rosie Eccles of Great Britain at Uruchie Sports Palace on Day 4 of the Minsk 2019 2nd European Games in Minsk, Belarus. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile.
Grainne Walsh of Ireland makes her way to the ring prior to her Women’s Featherweight bout against Rosie Eccles of Great Britain at Uruchie Sports Palace on Day 4 of the Minsk 2019 2nd European Games in Minsk, Belarus. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile.

“This is what dreams are made of,” a thrilled Grainne said afterwards.

“I’m actually a bit emotional, it’s a great achievement and I’m just delighted with myself. I felt my technique and my speed would be enough to beat her, I had to bite down hard – that’s two tough fights now in three days but the job is only half done now, I’m fully focused to go the full way.”

In the canoeing, Jenny Egan has qualified for the B finals of the Women's K1 200 after a 7th placed finish in the semi-final in 43.427 seconds.

Jenny Egan of Ireland competes in the Women’s Canoe Sprint K1 200m heat at Zaslavl Regatta Course on Day 6 of the Minsk 2019 2nd European Games in Minsk, Belarus. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Jenny Egan of Ireland competes in the Women’s Canoe Sprint K1 200m heat at Zaslavl Regatta Course on Day 6 of the Minsk 2019 2nd European Games in Minsk, Belarus. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Speaking after her race, Egan said, “I’m really happy to make the B Final in the K1 200m, it’s a big improvement from a few weeks ago at the World Cups.

"It was a good race, it was quite windy out there, quite a side wind so you had to adjust your technique to cope with the conditions. But I’m happy with it and through to the B Final of the 200 tomorrow.”

Ronan Foley missed out by one second after he finished 8th in his semi-final - only the top seven progressed.

Kurt Walker secures 5th Irish medal at European Games

The 19-year-old Dubliner is one of the youngest athletes on Team Ireland and is soaking up the experience.

“200m isn’t really my distance it’s more of an explosive type distance for the stronger guys out here. I’m more of an endurance guy so I prefer the 1000m. But it was good to get out there and get the experience and do my best.”

Nhat Nguyen (pron: Nat Wen) booked his place in the last-16 of the men's badminton this morning by defeating Austria's Luka Wraber in his final group game.

Nhat Nguyen of Ireland in action against Luka Wrabber of Austria during their Men's Badminton Singles group stage match at Falcon Club on Day 6 of the Minsk 2019 2nd European Games in Minsk, Belarus. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Nhat Nguyen of Ireland in action against Luka Wrabber of Austria during their Men's Badminton Singles group stage match at Falcon Club on Day 6 of the Minsk 2019 2nd European Games in Minsk, Belarus. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Commenting after the match, Nguyen said “I’m quite relieved, I’m really happy that I mentally turned my head around after the first set, didn’t distract myself and kind of manned up to just go for it in the second and third, which I did and I’m really happy that I did it.”

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