Michaela Walsh is confident she has what it takes to win an Olympic gold medal in 2024 after disappointment this year in Tokyo.
Belfast featherweight Walsh had her Olympic dreams dashed this year in her first fight in Tokyo, as Italy’s Irma Testa secured a unanimous decision victory in the pair’s last-16 bout.
Walsh still had her brother Aidan to support in the men’s welterweight division, but the loss was a big disappointment for the Irishwoman, who entered the tournament as one of four seeded fighters.
The 28-year-old was speaking as an EBS ambassador at the launch of the 2021 Federation of Irish Sport Volunteers Awards and revealed that she is determined to go all the way at the next Olympic Games in Paris.
‘Even after losing I still have an Olympic champion mindset.’
“It’s great, I don’t have to wait two years for the Commonwealths. The Commonwealths is next year and then the year after that will be the European Games, which is sort of like a mini Olympics,” Walsh said.
“The year after that is obviously the Olympic Games. So it’s great to have a big tournament every year in the lead up to the Olympics. Three years, it’ll go by so quick.
“I’ve looked at the pro option and maybe if I had won a medal in Tokyo, I don’t know if I would still be in this position. The pro game is something that excites me… But the Olympic Games is just special.
“It’s something that I’ve always dreamed of doing. Obviously seeing Kellie winning a medal was so special. Getting a taste of that – straight away after I knew, despite people saying ‘Go pro’ that I wanted to stay on for Paris.
“I know that I have the ability to not only win a medal, but to go all the way. Even after losing I still have an Olympic champion mindset.”
EBS AND THE FEDERATION OF IRISH SPORT LAUNCH VOLUNTEERS IN SPORT AWARDS
— Irish Sport (@iresport) September 7, 2021
Michaela Walsh on putting her loss behind her to support her brother.
Walsh came very close to beating Irma Test in their last-16 bout, but all five judges ultimately opted for the Italian, in a disappointing debut Olympic fight for the Belfast woman.
Despite the close loss, Walsh was very gracious in the immediate aftermath of the defeat, congratulating her opponent on her victory in an interview with RTE.
The Olympian admitted that she hasn’t always been so calm and accepting in the aftermath of a close loss, but explained that experience and her desire to encourage her brother helped her get over the defeat.
“I’d say it’s something I’ve learned. After fights I used to be very emotional, especially after a fight I could have won,” Walsh admitted.
“I’ve been in fights that I’ve gotten very bad decisions in so sometimes it’s hard to manage your emotions after. But for me, I took my defeat and I just turned [my attention] to Aidan.
“At the end of the day I knew Aidan had a great chance to go all the way. So I just wanted to do everything I could to be there for Aidan so I just had to get on with it really.”
Michaela Walsh on her team mates’ decision to remain amateur.
Both of Ireland’s boxing medallists at this summer’s games in Tokyo – Michaela’s brother Aidan and Kellie Harrington – have stated their intention to fight at the next Olympics in Paris.
The two would have had an opportunity to turn professional after their impressive showing in Tokyo, but have turned down the chance to cash in on their talents for the time being.
Walsh admitted that Harrington and her brother’s decision to remain with Ireland’s Olympic boxing team will give every competitor a boost going into the Olympics in 2024.
“If Kellie had gone pro I obviously would have respected the decision she made but I’m delighted that she’s staying on and she’s a great addition to the team,” Walsh said.
“It’s great to have her but maybe she will turn pro in the future, I don’t know. That’s her decision and for anyone else in the team, that’s their decision. But it says a lot about the team for her and Aidan to stay on.
“After winning an Olympic medal there’s a lot of offers that come on the table so it’s brilliant that the team are sticking together coming into Paris.”