Amy Broadhurst: ‘Everything I’ve put in over the last 22 years, it just feels like it’s been blown away’

Dundalk star’s Olympic dream left in tatters after being overlooked for final World qualifier

The Irish Athletic Boxing Association has opted to boycott competitions run by the International Boxing Association. Ireland returned from last year's women's Worlds with two gold medals, courtesy of Amy Broadhurst and Lisa O'Rourke. Picture by INPHO
World champions Amy Broadhurst and Lisa O'Rourke both hoped to be assessed ahead of the final World Olympic qualifier in Thailand. Picture by Inpho

AMY Broadhurst claims she hasn’t received “a fair shot” from the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) after her Olympic dream was left in tatters.

The Dundalk woman - who claimed World, European and Commonwealth Games gold medals during a glittering 2022 - expected to be back in the frame for Paris 2024 following rival Grainne Walsh’s controversial defeat on the last day of the recent World qualifier in Italy.

Walsh appeared to have done more than enough to get the better of Agneta Rygelska in their 66kg bout, with the winner securing their spot at this summer’s Games, but the Pole’s hand was raised.

It was widely anticipated that both Broadhurst and Lisa O’Rourke, also a previous World champion, could come back into the Irish coaches’ thinking as thoughts turned to the final World qualifier in Thailand at the end of May.

However, as she drove home from squad training on Wednesday, Broadhurst received a call from IABA High Performance director Tricia Heberle explaining that neither she nor O’Rourke would be assessed.

Teams for the final World qualifier have to be submitted by April 17, and Grainne Walsh has been given the nod as the Irish team prepare for an upcoming training camp with Ukraine.

Broadhurst and O’Rourke were instead told there would be an assessment for the number two position at that weight, with the winner going to the upcoming European Championships in Serbia.

Broadhurst has since informed Heberle, via email, that she won’t be participating in that assessment.

“I have a bit more respect for myself as an athlete to be going competing for second spot. I think it’s a piss-take,” said the 27-year-old.

“They told me get yourself fit, get your weight right by the 22nd of March – I did that, I was ready for an assessment next week, and they’re not even giving us an opportunity.”

A devastated Grainne Walsh is embraced by Poland's Aneta Rygielska after Monday's winner-takes-all 66kg quarter-final in Italy. Picture by Ben McShane/Sportsfile
Grainne Walsh missed out on Olympic qualification earlier this month after a controversial defeat to Poland's Aneta Rygielska in Italy. Picture by Ben McShane/Sportsfile (Ben McShane / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

The only weight class at which an assessment will take place is 71kg, where Mullaghbawn’s Eugene McKeever and Olympic bronze medallist Aidan Walsh will battle it out for a place in Bangkok – with Walsh having lost out at the last 32 stage of the qualifier in Busto Arsizio - while Wexford’s Dean Walsh is also in the mix.

Broadhurst’s father and St Bronagh’s, Rostrevor coach, Tony, insists he fully intends to challenge the decision, on the basis of what his daughter has achieved on the international stage in recent years.

For Amy, however, there is anger at how events have unfolded.

Having been sidelined with a shoulder injury for the remainder of last year, following on from June 2023′s European Olympic qualifier where she narrowly missed out on a place in Paris, Broadhurst admits she is “struggling to make any sense of what is going on”.

“I started crying straight away, because usually when this sort of thing happens, you can’t really overturn it... I’m after putting 22 years of my life into the sport, for the Olympic dream, and I’m not getting a fair shot at it.

“I think I’ve been pretty hard done by... I think it’s very insulting, given what me and Lisa have achieved. I went through the selection policy and the only thing she [Walsh] has over me is being number one in Ireland, winning the elites, but I’m still ranked above the two of them in the world.

“My results over the last two years speak for themselves.”

As for the future, Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn is an admirer of the St Bronagh’s boxer, with Broadhurst long considered the obvious successor to Katie Taylor in the professional game.

For now, though, none of that seems to matter.

“It’s been my whole life to try and get to the Olympics,” she said, “there’s no way I’m going to stay around until 2028, not a hope.

“So for me everything I’ve put in over the last 22 years, it just feels like it’s been blown away. Like it’s for nothing, really.

“I’m fed up now.”