'The road is bouncing this morning' – Portland Row celebrates Kellie Harrington's Olympic heroics

'The road is bouncing this morning' – Portland Row celebrates Kellie Harrington's Olympic heroics

Kellie Harrington celebrates her victory in her women's lightweight quarter-final bout against Imane Khelif of Algeria at the Kokugikan Arena during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Kellie Harrington has achieved sporting greatness after scooping at least a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games, but emulating the greatest of all time, Katie Taylor, remains a tantalising possibility.

The Dubliner has two fights left in Japan to claim the gold, and given her quietly assured performance in dispatching Imane Khelif of Algeria in the lightweight quarter-final at the Kokugikan Arena, the greatest prize of them all is in sight.

Ireland came to a standstill in 2012 when the ferocious Bray warrior queen took the gold in London, and while Covid-19 may have put paid to that kind of public spectacle, there is little doubt that early alarm clocks will be set in more and more households across the country on Thursday morning as the Portland Row fighter seduces the nation with her brilliance in Japan.

Kellie Harrington, right, and Imane Khelif of Algeria in action during their women's lightweight quarter-final bout. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Kellie Harrington, right, and Imane Khelif of Algeria in action during their women's lightweight quarter-final bout. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

An awkward scrap in the quarters, the Algerian knew she had nothing to lose given the Irish fighter was expected to win, but attempts at gamesmanship failed to rattle inner city Dublin's finest, and Kellie had it in the bag after two rounds.

In a sign of how she has mastered self-belief with humility, the notable characteristics of the Irish medalists at these games, Kellie said: "It wasn’t a spectacular fight, but this is what champions do, champions just do enough when they need to win and that’s exactly what happened there today. I did enough to get the bout, I wasn’t going inside the pocket to be caught or anything. It was good, I enjoyed it.

"To be honest, I don’t feel pressure about medals or anything like that because at the end of the day, I’m just here to perform and give my best."

Kellie Harrington: 'It wasn’t a spectacular fight, but this is what champions do, champions just do enough when they need to win and that’s exactly what happened there today.' Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Kellie Harrington: 'It wasn’t a spectacular fight, but this is what champions do, champions just do enough when they need to win and that’s exactly what happened there today.' Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

In shades of the almost Zen-like calm of Skibbereen rowing great Paul O'Donovan, Kellie Harrington had achieved an even greater goal than the Olympic medal – the ever-elusive victory within.

"Yeah, medals are medals. If I hadn’t gotten one I’d have been very upset, but it wouldn’t have been the end of the day, because a medal doesn’t define me as a person. 

I am more than just a boxer. I am a person and a human being and I have a loving family and a great community and I have a fantastic job."

Team Ireland leader for boxing, and former super-bantamweight champion of the world in professional prizefighting, Bernard Dunne said the journey has not stopped for Kellie after guaranteeing a medal. 

Kellie Harrington with coaches John Conlan, right, and Zaur Antia after her victory. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Kellie Harrington with coaches John Conlan, right, and Zaur Antia after her victory. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Thursday's fight against former foe in the World Championships in 2018, Sudaporn Seesondee of Thailand, is the next goal to surpass.

He said: "It’s great to get past the next step, great to move forward. I’m delighted for Kellie, it’s a well-earned medal. 

"We faced this opponent before in the World Championships two years ago. Kellie came out on top in that and I know that’s a different contest, but we’ll review the opponent this evening and tomorrow and we’ll have a plan in place."

Although Kellie Harrington may be the fighter in the ring, it's a pressure cooker in the family for those who adore her.

Brother Christopher Harrington was glowing with pride at the brilliant young woman who would do anything for anyone.

"Obviously I’m a little bit nervous, but I’m also excited. Me ma is definitely a bag of nerves, after all, it’s a young girl in the ring potentially getting her head boxed in.

“That’s the way Kellie approaches life, she’s humble. It’s the upbringing she’s had, she’s just loving it.

Kellie Harrington’s parents Yvonne and Christy outside their home in Portland Row, Dublin, celebrating Kellie’s win last night at the Tokyo Olympics. Picture: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie
Kellie Harrington’s parents Yvonne and Christy outside their home in Portland Row, Dublin, celebrating Kellie’s win last night at the Tokyo Olympics. Picture: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie

"Getting to the Olympics for any athlete is the pinnacle of sport. It won’t sink in for Kellie until later.

“She’s a pleaser, she loves to make people happy. She would go into the work the day after she returns if she was asked. That’s the values and the morals that she brings.

If she tried to walk to O’Connell Street, it would take an hour as she would stop to talk to everyone and to offer to help with messages."

Brother Joel Harrington said the family would love to be there in Tokyo, but Kellie's laser focus has put her in good stead to be on her own, with Team Ireland in tow for support.

"We'd love to be there, but she's fine on her own, even if we were over there we wouldn't be around Kellie or anything like that. None of us in the family would talk too much to Kellie when she's competing, there's not really a lot we can say to her. She's a high-performance athlete, so it's what she does and we just leave her to it," he told Newstalk.

Kellie might be as chill as ice, but the same can't be said for Portland Row.

Joel said: "I think Kellie's main priority is bringing a bit of positivity to the area and it's certainly done that. The road and the area is absolutely bouncing this morning.”

More in this section

IE_180_logo
Price info

Subscribe to unlock unlimited digital access.
Cancel anytime.

Terms and conditions apply

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.