Andy Lee (St Francis, Limerick, Ireland) lost 28-17 to Lukas Wilaschek (Germany)
Two-time Irish middleweight champion Andy Lee lost out in the European Championship semi-final tonight to German Lukas Wilaschek on a 28-17 points decision.
However, he ended the competition in Pula, Croatia with Ireland’s first medal for six years at this level and the buffer of Olympic qualification.
Lee, 19, was suffering from a badly bruised right hand, which effectively killed off his leading jab and hook, but speaking to RTÉ Sport afterwards, he did not wish to make it an excuse.
“I’m not making any excuses tonight. My hand is sore but that doesn’t matter,” said the 2002 World Junior silver medallist.
"The fight was close and I felt they weren’t giving me the scores in the first round. It was a very technical fight, and that suited him maybe. He was throwing a good left and clocked up scores in the third round."
“I don’t know if I would have fought the Russian (Gaidarbek Gaidarbekov) in the final with my injured hand. I’ll sit down and think about how the week has gone now, and start the preparations for Athens.”
Gaidarbek, second at the Sydney Olympics, saw off his semi-final opponent Javid Taghiev of Azerbaijan with a third round flurry, and will be the favourite for Sunday’s final.
Lee’s bronze medal is Ireland’s first at the Europeans since current IBO super middleweight champion Brian Magee struck silver in Minsk in 1998, and the country’s fifth from the last eight European Championships.
The rest of the IABA’s high performance squad will get further chances to qualify for the Olympics at tournaments to be held from the end of March (Bulgaria and Poland) to the start of May (Azerbaijan and Sweden).