Brendan Irvine: 'I wasn't walking right in December and now I've qualified for another Olympics'

Two-time Irish Olympian Brendan Irvine bounced back from a leg injury to claim one of 16 Olympic places at the aborted 43-nation European qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 in London on Monday night.

Brendan Irvine: 'I wasn't walking right in December and now I've qualified for another Olympics'

Two-time Irish Olympian Brendan Irvine bounced back from a leg injury to claim one of 16 Olympic places at the aborted 43-nation European qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 in London on Monday night.

"I didn't think I was going to be able to come here. I wasn't walking right (in December) and now three months later I've qualified for another Olympics," said the Irish captain.

The 11-day tournament was postponed on Monday evening because of the coronavirus outbreak after just three days of competition.

However, 16 flyweights and feathers qualified for the 32nd Olympiad before the final bell prematurely tolled on the event.

Antrim flyweight Irvine picked up a leg injury last summer and admitted that he was struggling with the knock until Christmas.

"I've been out of action for so long, it's been a challenge coming back from injuries, but it's all paid off now qualifying for my second Games," added the Rio 2016 Olympian.

The 13-strong Irish team returned from London yesterday to a country in virtual lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, nine boxers from that squad will still be in play when the tournament resumes, probably in May, from where it finished Monday.

Former World champion Kellie Harrington, for instance, was due to meet Poland's Aneta Rygielska yesterday two wins away from qualification.

And Harrington's Irish team-mates Aidan Walsh, Dean Gardiner, Kiril Afanasev, Aoife O'Rourke, Michael Nevin, Emmet Brennan, George Bates, and Michaela Walsh are still in the mix.

Irvine, having achieved the objective of qualifying after hammering Hungary's Istavan Szaka on Monday, is also slated to meet Spain's Gabriel Escobar in the quarter-finals.

Kurt Walker, who was surprisingly beaten by Germany's Hamsat Shadolov for an Olympic place, Christina Desmond, and Carly McNaul all lost and are out of the European qualifiers.

Meanwhile, 96 boxers from the African (33) and Asia/Oceania (63) qualifiers are through to Tokyo with 16 qualified from the partially completed qualifiers in London, which had 77 places up for grabs, to bring the total to 112.

The America qualifiers scheduled for Buenos Aires later this month were postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The final world qualifier scheduled for Paris in May looks likely to be postponed until June.

Two hundred and eight-six boxers - 186 males and 100 females – will battle it out at Tokyo 2020.

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