Boxing

Departing Dunne helped turn my career around: Olympic ace Aidan Walsh

IABA High Performance director Bernard Dunne, who has been on extended leave since returning from last summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo, has tendered his resignation. Picture by INPHO
Neil Loughran

OLYMPIC star Aidan Walsh has credited Bernard Dunne with helping turn his boxing career around, in the wake of the Dubliner’s resigning from his role as Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) High Performance director.

The IABA still hopes the former world champion – who has been on extended leave since returning from last year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo - will “reconsider” his decision.

Dunne took up the role in 2017, just six months after a disastrous Rio 2016 Olympics when a highly-fancied Ireland team returned home empty-handed.

He was team manager in Tokyo when Kellie Harrington finished top of the podium, with counter-puncher Walsh landing bronze.

And the 25-year-old west Belfast man described Dunne as “an amazing fella, an amazing leader”.

“Bernard taught me so much,” said Walsh, who was yesterday confirmed as part of Team NI’s Commonwealth Games squad bound for Birmingham this summer,

“If I go into coaching or that side of things in years to come, I’ll take the lessons I’ve learnt from Bernard with me. They’re life lessons. He’s an amazing person, amazing at what he did in his job… I could only say good things about Bernard.”

Walsh was the number three welterweight in Ireland and seemingly out of the Olympic picture when he was invited into the High Performance unit for assessments ahead of the 2019 World Championships – and he hasn’t looked back since.

“If it wasn’t for Bernard, I wouldn’t have been at the Olympics. I don’t know the programme without Bernard – he showed faith in me because that what was a massive turning point in my career.

“After going to those World Championships I came back here and won the Irish elite championships, then to go on and win an Olympic medal - a lot of that was down to Bernard Dunne."

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