Later return can work in Ireland's favour at Tokyo 2021 hopes Kellie Harrington

2018 World champion Kellie Harrington hopes the extended break due to the coronavirus pandemic can work in Irish athletes' favour heading to next summer's Olympic Games. Picture by INPHO
Neil Loughran

TOKYO 2021 hopeful Kellie Harrington believes a later return to action can actually work in Ireland’s favour by the time the Games roll around next summer.

Under the current phase one of the Irish government’s easing of the Covid-19 restrictions, some sports facilities have reopened but athletes have been unable to access them because of the five kilometre travel restriction.

Last week, Olympic Federation of Ireland chief executive Peter Sherrard voiced his concern that Irish athletes are losing ground on their global rivals in the race towards Tokyo 2021 as a result.

Harrington admits it has been in the back of her mind that Ireland “would be a little bit behind” by the time they are in a position to step up preparations.

The 2018 World lightweight champion was scheduled to box the day after the controversial Olympic qualifier in London was pulled as a result of the pandemic in mid-March, and she hopes the extended break can stand to Ireland once the serious business begins.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it every now and again,” said Harrington, who will be 31 when Tokyo 2021 gets underway.

“GB have been back since the first of June, so I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think we would be a little bit behind. At the end of the day, nothing’s really going to take off until the end of the year/start of next year, we’ve loads of time to get ready.

“That’s when I can control what I can control. There’s no point in me really getting too worried about it because I’m still doing enough here [at home], I have a good level of fitness. When we do get back out there [to the Sport Ireland Campus in Abbotstown] then I can sharpen up the tools and I’m sure we’ll have loads of sparring as soon as we can.

“I’m not too worried about it because the break makes you more hungry as well. I always think of the positive so I’m thinking that those people who are back from the first of June are going to be wrecked at the end of the year where we’ll be nice and fresh, ready to go.”

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