Belfast Telegraph

History maker Michaela feels 'cheated' but her journey is just beginning

By Steven Beacom

Look out Rio. Michaela Walsh is coming and she is bringing those sensational boxing skills with her.

The Commonwealth Games gold may have eluded the Belfast girl, but now the biggest prize in the Olympics is in her sights.

And the 21-year-old from Northern Ireland wants to beat Nicola Adams in the final to get it. Walsh felt she was 'cheated' in Saturday's flyweight final after losing to experienced Yorkshire woman Adams on a split decision.

There is no doubt it was a close contest, so close that two judges couldn't separate the fighters, awarding them two rounds apiece, scoring the fight 38 points all.

The third judge, Rakhymzhan Rysbayev of Kazakhstan, saw it differently, declaring that Adams won the fight three rounds to one (39-37) leaving Walsh with silver and a sense of injustice inside the acoustic SSE Hydro Arena.

Letting rip, Michaela insisted that reputation, rather than what went on in the ring, had won London 2012 Olympic Team GB champion Adams the gold.

"It was a close fight, but I worked that little bit more for it and wanted it that little bit more and I feel in my heart that I have been cheated," said Walsh, just minutes after the medal ceremony and still feeling emotional about her defeat.

"Against an Olympic champion I knew if it was any way close she was going to get it. When I went back to my corner the coaches knew I had won, I knew I had won and if she watches it again she'll know I won."

Adams, standing close by conducting her own media interviews, disagreed, feeling she was a worthy winner, becoming the first women's boxing champion in Commonwealth Games history.

Walsh (pictured) went on to say that she would spray paint her silver medal gold "because I believe that fight was mine".

Here's why the colour should stay the same.

From this moment on in Walsh's career, that silver medal ought to become her driving force.

The boxer from the renowned and revered Holy Family Club should feed off the despair she felt as she held back the tears on the second step of the podium. The silver in Glasgow can make Michaela go for gold in the 2016 Rio Olympics with even more determination and desire, fuelling her fire for glory.

"I hope Nicola stays amateur because I want that re-match in Rio and I'll take the gold then," added Walsh, who is set to represent Ireland in Brazil when the time comes.

Adams v Walsh II is by no means guaranteed because the former will be 33 by then, but if Michaela's dream becomes reality the Olympic sized hype surrounding the fight would be something to behold.

There is much to be done before then though.

When she returns to the Holy Family Club, where she spars with Paddy Barnes, the legendary Gerry Storey and the other accomplished trainers in the gym will seek to improve her defence and hone her ring craft even further.

They'll be well aware that while she is a wonderful natural talent, the experience in Glasgow, which included three comprehensive victories, will have helped her no end and they will aim to build on that.

After the highest profile tournament of Michaela's short career, which she took to like a duck to water, she can go from strength to strength.

The World Championships are later this year and Walsh feels she will stick at flyweight (51kg) rather than return to 54kg, the weight in which she is Irish champion.

Thanking all the coaches she has worked with since taking up boxing as a kid, she also had words of praise for Chris McNicholl from Sports Institute Northern Ireland (SINI) for helping her to recover quickly from a 'very bad arm injury' to make it to Scotland at all.

Walsh entered Glasgow as a virtual unknown. She left it as a household name, viewed as a young woman who has a huge future in her sport.

Today she travelled home to Belfast, where her proud family waited for her with open arms. On Saturday morning mum Martine, dad Damien, a respected boxing coach, brother Aidan, a promising boxer who hopes to compete in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, sister Natasha and uncle Paul, a top class runner on the veteran circuit, made their way via boat and car to Glasgow to cheer on their girl.

The close knit family has been having a difficult time lately with Michaela's grandad unwell. The 21-year-old's exploits over the past 10 days gave her nearest and dearest a welcome boost.

She also delivered for Northern Ireland. Keep your eye on this girl... there will be golden moments to come.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph