‘It was heartbreaking’: Daina Moorehouse bouncing back from disappointment as Olympic fire is rekindled

Daina Moorehouse sealed her last 16 spot at the World Olympic qualifier on Friday. Picture courtesy of Tara Robins Mari
Daina Moorehouse sealed her last 16 spot at the World Olympic qualifier on Friday. Picture courtesy of Tara Robins Mari

NO shortage of summer soul-searching followed Daina Moorehouse’s near miss at the European Olympic qualifier in Poland.

Having accounted for experienced Ukrainian Tetiana Kob in her first outing, only French flyweight Wassila Lkhadiri stood between the Bray pocket rocket and a place at Paris 2024.

After winning the first two rounds 3-2 on the judges’ scorecards, she had one hand on the golden ticket. Lkhadiri came on strong in the last, 4-1 in her favour enough to squeeze across the line; and enough to leave the Irish camp in shock.

Head coach Zaur Antia was animated when the result was called out, while Moorehouse’s eyes dropped to the floor. So near, yet so far.

The long road back started at the Irish elites a few months down the line, and the 22-year-old is here again – this time Busto Arsizio in northern Italy, determined that fate will not deny her this time around.

Among those watching on during her opening win over Vietnam’s Thi Tam Nguyen was Bernard Dunne, world champion and former IABA High Performance director before heading for pastures new in India.

Moorehouse was just establishing herself as a potential star of the future when Dunne’s time was coming to an end, yet the Dubliner couldn’t have been more impressed with what he had seen.

“That was the best performance of the competition,” he said on Tuesday, “she was really excellent.”

And she backed that up on Friday with a split decision victory over cagey Venezuelan Tayonis Cedeno, Moorehouse springing into full-blooded flurries enough times in the first two rounds to seize the initiative, before seeing it out in the last.

That sent her through to a last 16 showdown with classy Uzbek Sabina Bobokulova on Sunday - and, having just missed out last time, Moorehouse hopes to get the job done this time around.

“It definitely took me a while to get over [losing at the European Games],” she said.

“It was a very close fight, it was for a ticket to Paris, and the fight couldn’t have been any closer, so it was heartbreaking. I sparred her again after and I was like... how?

“But I wasn’t even half the boxer then that I am now, so I just think it drove me on. Hopefully this is the reason, and it’s meant to be.”

Maybe it’s because of that the pressure isn’t getting in just as much eight months on.

The European qualifier felt different, she doesn’t know why, but in Busto Arsizio Moorehouse has kept her school and stayed sharp despite having to wait five days between her first and second fights.

“I feel like I’m in my own bubble.

“I was more nervous for the European qualifier, just with the whole set-up, whereas now I do get nervous but not as bad as I’d usually be.

“You just get in and do your best, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

And Moorehouse remains proof that persistence pays off.

She had been boxing four years before winning a first Irish title in 2015. That same year, she claimed gold at the 2018 European Youth Championships in Italy and hasn’t looked back.

“My brother Michael boxed, all my father’s side of the family, so it was sort of like ‘Daina, you’re going up to the boxing club, you don’t really have a choice’.

“I hated it, I was always crying when I sparred, but I stuck at it for a while and when I actually started winning, I said maybe I can take this a bit more seriously.

“After the European youths, it was like ‘right, don’t stop now because otherwise it’s just wasted talent’. And here I am now, trying to qualify for an Olympic Games

“Thank God I never stopped.”


World Olympic qualifier, Busto Arsizio


51kg round of 32: D Moorehouse v T Cedeno (Venezuela) – afternoon session

57kg round of 32: J Gallagher v H Mohammed (India) – evening session


92+kg round of 16: M McDonagh v D Latypov (Bahrain) – afternoon session

66kg round of 16: G Walsh v F Asiko (Kenya) – evening session


80kg round of 16: K Cassidy v R Hovhannisyan (Armenia) – afternoon session

50kg round of 16: D Moorehouse v S Bobokulova (Uzbekistan) – afternoon session