Northern Ireland news

Belfast boxers Brendan Irvine and Michaela Walsh praised for "grace" in defeat

Michaela Walsh lost Italy's Irma Testa on a unanimous 5-0 decision in the last 16 of the featherweight division. Picture by Hugh Russell

BELFAST boxers Brendan Irvine and Michaela Walsh have been praised for their "grace" in defeat after their Olympic dreams were extinguished in the first stage of their contests.

Irvine, Team Ireland boxing captain lost on points 4-1 to Carlo Paalam of the Philippines in the flyweight last-32 stage.

There was an outpouring of support for the country's flag-bearer and his performance who admitted he was "absolutely devastated not to win".

"I've put so much in these past three years to get here. I just have to pick myself up and support the rest of the team now."

Games debutant Walsh, who lost Italy's Irma Testa on a unanimous 5-0 decision in the last 16 of the featherweight division, having been given a bye in the first round.

She had lost in a recent Olympic qualifier to the same boxer and said she "felt we both had our moments".

"I just think the 5-0 doesn't really do the fight much justice, but at the end of the day that's boxing.

"This fight doesn't define me. As much as I wanted to win a medal, I will be back again and I still think I'm up there with some of the best in the world in the 57kg category.

"The unanimous decision seemed a bit unfair in a way. But that's boxing. I wish her all the best, I hope she can go all the way."

West Belfast assembly member Alex Maskey said the result was "very disappointing for both boxers".

"Both fighters shouldered their loss with immense grace and respect for their opponents. They continue to do us all proud, best wishes."

Walsh's younger brother Aidan is in the ring today against Albert Mengue Ayissi in their last 16 welterweight clash.

They are the first brother and sister to box in the same Olympics.

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