Aidan Walsh is aiming to take after his big sister Michaela
SEEING his big sister standing on the podium at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro, silver medal around her neck, counts as one of the proudest moments of Aidan Walsh’s life.
From relative obscurity, Michaela Walsh cruised to a Commonwealth Games final showdown against the girl with the golden grin, Olympic champion Nicola Adams.
She lost narrowly – controversially in some people’s eyes – but Walsh had announced herself on the international stage. She had arrived. And as he prepares to embark on his own Commonwealth Games journey, the youth version in Samoa, Aidan Walsh is determined to follow his sister’s lead.
“Definitely, Michaela’s one of my idols and always has been, even before I started boxing,” said the rangy Holy Family light-welter.
“I’ve always looked up to her, tried to copy her in everything she does, whether it was sports clothes or whatever. Watching her training, and seeing her at the Commonwealth Games, I was just so proud.”
Michaela may have set the bar high, but her younger brother doesn’t feel any pressure to return to the Walsh’s Belfast homestead with a medal.
“She slags me, but I’m only 18 so I’m just going to go out and enjoy it and enjoy the event,” he said.
“I’m confident. I’m confident when I enter any competition that, if I can perform 100 per cent, I can go all the way.”
The training leading up the Commonwealth Youth Games (September 5-11) has been intense. A two-week camp in Russia was followed by regular trips up and down the road to Dublin to work alongside the Irish High Performance team.
Last week the five-strong Northern Ireland team jetted Down Under for a 10-day camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. No stone has been left unturned as coach John Conlan bids to replicate the success achieved in Glasgow last summer.
“John’s a phenomenal coach,” continued Walsh, “you just have to see the work he has done with Mick [Conlan] and Paddy [Barnes].
“They’ve been over training at the Holy Family a lot this year and just seeing the work they were doing, it was unbelievable. Working with him now, I can feel myself coming on leaps and bounds. I’ve never trained as hard, I’ve never really done anything like this.
“I’m always learning different things and John’s passed on wee things he picked up when he was away with the lads in WSB [World Series of Boxing]. I’m using my height to my advantage more. John’s very good at getting me to adjust and stay at long range instead of getting into a war.”
Michaela certainly believes in him, and is anticipating a serious medal haul for Team NI.
“There’s unbelievable talent in that team, they’ve all had a brilliant year. I think they’ll surprise a few people,” she said during a training day at Jordanstown earlier this month.
“I hope she’s right,” laughed Aidan.
“If someone had told me this time last year that I’d be going to the Commonwealth Youth Games, I wouldn’t have believed them.
“It’s a great opportunity, not many people get this chance. The team is flying at the minute. The likes of James McGivern and Stephen [McKenna] are just coming off winning All-Ireland titles.
“Everybody who’s here deserves to be here, and we all want to show what we can do on the biggest stage any of us has ever experienced.”