'I would nearly give up my gold medal to give it to Carly': James McGivern on why team-mate's win meant so much

James McGivern looked very impressive en route to victory over Jean John Colin from Mauritius yesterday. He faces India’s Manish Kaushik in tomorrow's final. Picture by Mark Marlow
Neil Loughran

HE may have produced a performance that oozed class to book his spot in tomorrow’s lightweight semi-final, but it was watching Carly McNaul rampage into the last four that gave James McGivern the biggest thrill yesterday.

McNaul thought her Commonwealths dream was dead when she lost to Ceire Smith in the Ulster Elite final, and she has had to wait patiently for her opportunity to get between the ropes.

And she was in no mood for wasting time, launching into opponent Ayisat Oriyomi before the Nigerian’s corner threw in the towel in the second round with their fighter having suffered a broken rib.

The wild celebrations showed what it meant to ‘Wrecking Ball’ McNaul, and to the coaching staff of John Conlan, Pete Brady and Damien Kennedy.

And McGivern was back stage lapping it up too.

“Wee Carly winning was absolutely amazing,” beamed the Belfast fitness instructor.

“I was laughing because it was as though John had wound her up in the corner and said ‘go’. I think he put 50p in her and away she went.

“I was watching with Orla [O’Rourke], our physio, and out of all of us here, Carly deserves it the most. I would nearly give up my gold medal to give it to Carly.

“We’re all really behind her… we’re all team Carly. From where she’s come from to where she is now, it’s beyond explanation, and as a team we’re all really proud of her.”

And his team-mates must have been pretty proud of McGivern too, as he dominated the tough, awkward Jean John Colin, giving his opponent a standing count in the second and showing the full repertoire of his skills en route to a straightforward win.

The St George’s ace is hard to please, rating his performance “a B or a C”, but was delighted to come through the quarter-final unscathed against the rough, tough Mauritian.

“It was decent enough… it wasn’t an A-class performance but he was a tough, tough guy.

“Once I gave him a count I thought that was going to be it, but he was taking those left hands for fun.

“At one stage I felt a wee bit of swelling around my eye because he caught me with an elbow coming off the ropes so I decided to try and keep it as tidy as I could.”

The result was never in doubt, and McGivern was pleasantly surprised when he turned on his phone in the changing room afterwards, receiving a host of well-wishing messages – with a couple of really special ones in there too.

He added: “One of my old teachers at St Colman’s in Ballynahinch, Mr Lawlor, sent me a picture where they had put my fight on in the assembly hall. I couldn’t believe it looking at them all standing there, and there was my big Chevy Chase on the screen.

“And then a few of the boys I train had it on in their school. A few of my colleagues at work had the fight on during classes… it was lovely seeing those messages that people were watching on from home.”

And they will have the opportunity to catch McGivern in action again when he enters the ring in the early hours of tomorrow morning bidding to upgrade his medal from bronze to at least silver.

Standing in his way will be India’s Manish Kaushik, who got the better of England’s highly-rated Calum French in the last eight yesterday.

The pair and took part in a test match during a pre-Games training camp in Canberra, and McGivern believes there will be only one outcome when they meet around 5am Irish time.

“I sparred him in camp so I’ve had a go at him already,” said the 20-year-old.

“In my head I already know what I’m going to do. I’ll talk to John and see what he thinks. I had a wee test match, I put a wee marker down there.

“I’d say neither of the two of us showed our full deck, but it’s in his head now, he knows rightly I’ve got the beating of him. It’s in his head and it’s in my head.”


51kg semi-final: Carly McNaul v Christine Ongare (Kenya) (3.15am approx)

52kg semi-final: Brendan Irvine v Reece McFadden (Scotland) (4.45am approx)

60kg semi-final: James McGivern v Manish Kaushik (India) (5am approx)

57kg semi-final: Michaela Walsh v Alexis Pritchard (NZ) (9.30am approx)

56kg semi-final: Kurt Walker v Eric Basran (Canada) (10.30am approx)

69kg semi-final: Aidan Walsh v Winston Hill (Fiji) (11am approx)

75kg semi-final: Steven Donnelly v Vikas Krishan (India) (11.30am approx)

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