GRAINNE Walsh performed very well to capture a bronze medal in the European Games at Minsk in Belarus last weekend.
One of Ireland's top female amateur boxers, the Tullamore welterweight was delighted to win bronze after some excellent performances, though she was understandably disappointed not to progress further and win gold or silver.
A member of Sparatacus Boxing Club in Tullamore, Walsh, a regular winner on the national and international stage with dreams of boxing in the Olympics, lost out to Polish southpaw Karoline Koszewska in her last fight, where a win would have secured her at least a silver medal.
Walsh gave her all on the day and was only defeated on a split decision, 3-2 but had no real complaints at the decision as Koszewska proved very strong and she found it difficult to get past her defence.
It was still a hugely positive tournament for Walsh, another major medal in a big international event as she continues to improve and develop.
A fine international soccer player in her youth before concentrating on boxing, a sport she only took up during the soccer off-season, Walsh had great earlier victories over two highly rated opponents, Britain's Rosie Eccles and Finland's European champion, Elina Gustafsson. She was in great form in those fights and they sent her into the silver medal showdown with her confidence soaring but it wasn't to be.
Walsh remarked after her exit: “My European Games journey ended today at the semi-final stage. I lost in a close 3-2 split decision to Poland. I came here with an excellent mindset and focussed on performance. I am coming home with a bronze medal for my country and I am very proud. I would love to be boxing in the final but it wasn't meant to be this time. Thank you to each and every person for the support and to my coaches and team mates. I appreciate it so much. Three tough fights in five days and total respect to all my opponents. Looking forward to getting home for some well needed time off.”
After defeating Gustafsson earlier in the tournament, Walsh was in exuberant mood as she declared:
“I swear, this is what dreams are made of, like. I’m actually a bit emotional but it’s a great achievement. I’m just delighted with myself. I felt my technique and my speed would be enough to beat her, and thank God I tried to stick to the plan as much as I could — as always.
“But I’m just delighted. I had to bite down hard. That’s two tough fights, now, in three days. But the job’s only half-done: I’m fully focused to go the whole way. First, aim for the podium, then you’re aiming all the way to the top. The more fights you have, the fitter you get, the sharper you get, so I’m rearing to go for the next round!”