Grainne Walsh scores Olympic redemption as Lehane also books her place in Paris

Tullamore fighter missed out on qualification in March but sealed place in Bangkok

Grainne Walsh goes on the attack during Friday's last 32 win over Stefanie von Borge. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile
Grainne Walsh (right) has qualified for the Olympic Games at the 66kg category (Ben McShane / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

Grainne Walsh scored well-deserved Olympic redemption on Sunday in Bangkok when finally got to stamp her ticket for this summer’s Games in Paris.

The Tullamore woman was left heartbroken and mystified by a split-decision defeat to Poland’s Agneta Rygielska in their Olympic qualifying bout in Milan in March.

However, that 3-2 decision against her, when her opponent was given a warning and forced into a standing count, spurred Walsh even more as the last chance for qualification for France reached the Thai capital Bangkok.

There were no such judging controversies this time round as the St Mary’s BC fighter scored a unanimous win over Ani Hovesepayan of Armenia to a take spot in Paris at 66kg.

“It’s extremely hard to sum up in words this feeling,” Walsh said afterwards.

“I believe I qualified back in Milan and I came to Bangkok to collect my ticket. I believe everything happens for a reason and I’m just so delighted and over the moon.

“I have my family here, I have my dad here, my brother and sister and the support of the nation and the community in Tullamore at home, my mam and my brother.

I’m so proud of myself. It’s been a long road and it’s only the start.

“The faith that the coaches have shown in me. The road I’ve been on, all the knock backs, it all had to be for this reason.

“I feel if I had’ve turned around and walked away… some people might have done that. But each time I got a knock back, it set me up and added more strings to my bow for this moment. That’s why this moment is all the sweeter for me.

I’ve lived this moment over in my mind a million times, to actually have it come true now, it’s unbelievable.”

Ireland head coach Zuar Antia said he has high hopes for Walsh this summer

“I feel very happy, well deserved, a fantastic win. Grainne is a very high-class boxer. She has great medal potential in the Olympic Games.

Jennifer Lehane also booked her place in Paris by defeating Hanna Lakotar of Hungary in their last eight on Sunday morning in Bangkok.

The DCU BC bantamweight came through a tough last 16 bout on Saturday against Ukraine’s Anastasia Kovalchuk, a European Championship gold medallist.

Lehane came out on the right side of a split decision to set up Sunday’s showdown with Lakorta, knowing that a win would put into the last four of the tournament and seal a spot at the Olympics.

Sunday’s bout proved much more straightforward, with Lehane taking it on an unanimous decision, winning on all five judges’ cards, to make her Olympic dreams come true

“I feel on top of the world, this is the stuff dreams are made of,” she said.

I sat down together [with the coaches] and got the tactics together and I just went with them. I stuck to my simple boxing and I think that’s what got me over the line.”