Aidan Walsh pays tribute to best of Belfast as he collects Olympic medal

Ireland's Aidan Walsh with the bronze medal in the Men's Welterweight Boxing at Kokugikan Arena on the eleventh day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan          Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.
Paul McConville

AIDAN Walsh paid tribute to the Belfast boxers who had come before him as he received his bronze medal for the men’s welterweight in Tokyo yesterday.

Walsh, who had to withdraw from the semi-final on Sunday due to injury, was thrilled to have made it to the podium at his debut and followed in the footsteps of other great names from the city in winning an Olympic medal.

“It’s unbelievable. I just feel extremely lucky, extremely blessed, extremely grateful to be even standing here," Walsh said

"It’s something that I always watched – Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, Hugh Russell, Jim McCourt and all the guys coming away with medals from the Olympic Games. It’s amazing – from Belfast, Belfast being such a small place, and to be part of such a small group. I’m lost for words, it’s something that just means so much to me. It’s incredible."

Bronze medal winner Ireland's Aidan Walsh, center, wears a medical boot on his foot as he mounts the podium for the medal award ceremony for the men's welterweight 69-kg boxing competition at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Looking back to the decision to withdraw from Sunday’s semi-final he continued, “To be honest, we tried everything we could to get into the ring. We waited until the last minute to try and get in there, and Bernard [Dunne] just said it was physically impossible to get in there. I wanted to – obviously every competitor wants to go right to the end - but it just wasn’t to be. I’m standing here with a medal and I’m so grateful, so lucky.

“To every kid out there, just keep dreaming. Never ever stop dreaming. When I walked into the club at eight years of age, seeing the Olympic signs, I always dreamt of being an Olympian. Anyone listening out there, no matter what it is – not even boxing or sport – dream as big as you can, don’t be afraid and never give up. A few years ago, I was thinking of packing boxing in and I’m standing here now as an Olympic medallist, so never, ever give up, never stop dreaming. Picture yourself doing it over and over again until you get it and just enjoy every minute of it.”

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