Kellie Harrington has guaranteed a fourth medal for Team Ireland at Tokyo 2020 with a dominant victory over Algeria’s Imane Khelif this morning.
The Dubliner booked her podium place via unanimous decision in today’s lightweight quarter-final, prevailing on four judges' scorecards of 30-27 and one of 29-28.
In claiming Ireland's second Olympic medal between the ropes at these games, she has now extended the country’s overall boxing honour roll to 18.
Yet to be finalised in this instance, of course, is the colour, with gold medal contender Harrington hoping to upgrade her bronze by progressing to Sunday’s 60kg decider.
Between the St Mary’s BC alum and that final berth looms Thailand’s Sudaporn Seesondee, who she thwarted in 2018's World Championship showdown. Thursday’s semi is pegged for a 6am start (Irish time).
The news comes as a welcome boon to Team Ireland following a weekend blighted by defeat and injury for Kurt Walker and Aidan Walsh respectively.
Irrespective of its hue, Harrington’s medal heralds Ireland’s first in the women’s code since Katie Taylor triumphed at London 2012.
Much like the Bray native, Harrington entered these Tokyo games ranked as the number-one seed in the lightweight classification.
As in Friday’s opening bout, those credentials swiftly shone through, the former world champion promptly attacking the body against her taller opponent, switching adeptly upstairs with lead right hands.
Assured feints by Harrington allowed her to diffuse the longer levers over her opponent all the while, firing off tripwire combinations as she slalomed from orthoox to southpaw.
The Algerian was not without success in spots, although her more cuffing blows only occasionally found the target as Harrington took command on the scorecards.
That narrative continued into the second, Harrington’s patented upper-body movement in full flow as she slalomed dexterously in and out of range with slick punches, sinking home stiff leads and counters in the pocket.
In the end, Khelif had largely no answer as Harrington patrolled the distance, a picture-perfect left hand followed up with a smile as the Irish favourite knew victory was all but secure, coasting for much of the closing frame as her more inexperienced foe remained unable to crack the code.
"I'm just overwhelmed with emotions at the moment here", Harrington toldpost-fight.
"You think of getting here, but never think of getting medals. Sometimes I think I'm lucky, but I can't be that lucky to keep winning all these things.
"To have a medal in my bag from the Olympic Games. Everything I've achieved I owe to Noel Burke, who is my club coach at home, and the whole Irish High Performance coaching team. And my teammates as well.
"All the sparring and preparation, all the support they have given me. And we have given each other. Not to mention the support I get from the community at home. I've heard that it's lit back there!
"[Khelif] was very awkward, throwing from far out, and making mad grunting noises as well! I was like: 'what is this?!'
"But she had really long arms, which made it hard for me to get in and do what I like to do. So I had to do enough to win. She was smiling at me [in the last round], and I just smiled back as if to say, 'look, It's all fun and games until my hand gets lifted!'
"Hakuna Matata, it means: 'no worries. for the rest of your days.' That's what I say and that's what the Lion King says!"