Mother of west Belfast boxer Aidan Walsh delighted after he fights his way to Olympic medal
The mother of a west Belfast boxer who has fought his way to at least a bronze medal for Team Ireland at the Toyko Olympics has spoken of her pride in the 24-year-old.
Martine Walsh was speaking hours after her son, Aidan, won his welterweight quarter-final bout against Merven Clair of Mauritius in the early hours of this morning.
The boxer, who trains at Monkstown Boxing Club, has now guaranteed himself at least a bronze medal for Team Ireland but could progress further.
He will now take on Britain's Pat McCormack at 4.03am on Sunday for a place in the final and a guaranteed silver.
His success today came just days after his older sister, Michaela, who also qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, suffered defeat when she lost out by unanimous decision to Italy’s Irma Testa in the women’s 57kg featherweight last 16.
Michaela had been in Tokyo to cheer on her brother, Aidan and tweeted her pride at his success.
In a post, she wrote: "Me and my brother Aidan have trained together and grown together our whole lives. When me and him qualified for the Olympic Games on the same day, it was the most special day of my life, but watching him win an Olympic medal brings a joy to me I’ve never felt. That’s my baby bro".
Speaking after his win, Aidan said: "It's crazy.
"The amount of training I have put in. The amount of sacrifices," he said.
"I've just had so much support. I am just so grateful, can't believe it. I'm happy with my performance but I want to progress on and progress on".
Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster, Michaela and Aidan's mother, Martine said she was "so proud".
She revealed the pair had been boxing each other since they were children with Michaela promising to buy her new floorboards if she won in Tokyo.
Me and my brother Aidan have trained together and grown together our whole lives. When me and him qualified for the Olympic Games on the same day, it was the most special day of my life, but watching him win an Olympic medal brings a joy to me I’ve never felt. That’s my baby bro!— Michaela Walsh (@michaelaw57) July 30, 2021
She told that while she does watch the bouts she is "very, very nervous".
"I have to go out of the room when things get rough," she said.
"I am so, so proud of Aidan and I am so, so pleased for him".
Martine said all the family would be "rooting" for Aidan tomorrow morning.
"I'll have to fill the fridge up and get plenty of tea bags in," she said.
Aidan and Michaela's father, Damien, who works for Translink, said everyone was "over the moon".
"It is just surreal," he said.
"It is a great day for us".
Mr Walsh said Aidan was nine and Michaela was 13 when they were first introduced to boxing at St Agnes' Boxing Club before later moving to Holy Family Boxing Club, where they fought for 10 years.
The pair then moved to Monkstown Boxing Club in 2017.
Both went on enjoy a plethora of wins including gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 and the All Ireland Elites a year later, which cleared their paths for Tokyo.
Mr Walsh said the family are "so grateful" the Tokyo Games had gone ahead amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
"At the end of the day, where we are at is remarkable," he said.
"For Michaela, it wasn't her day. For Aidan to get into medal position is a great victory for Michaela. She is getting as much attention now. It is one for the pair of them".
Mr Walsh, who revealed the family would be gathering together to watch Aidan's semi-final bout tomorrow morning at his uncle's house in Andersonstown, said his son was "ecstatic" following his win.
"It is a rare moment," he said.
"He is ever so grateful for that and he really appreciates all the attention".
Paul Johnston, Aidan's coach at Monkstown Boxing Club, described both Aidan and Michaela qualifying for Tokyo as a "special moment".
"It has been an incredible journey for them and everyone at the club," he said.
"It's massive. Aidan and Michaela are personifying what elite sports people are like and how they behave.
"They are incredibly dedicated. The journey both of them have been on is bittersweet. Aidan is hoping to go for gold. Michaela missed out. The performance today was as much for his sister as himself".
Mr Johnston said Aidan's success had come after his funding was cut last year, leaving him on a "shoe string".
"Now hopefully things will fall into place," he said.