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Carly McNaul insists she is in Birmingham to strike gold and to make her son Jaden proud

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Carly McNaul is guaranteed to win at least a bronze medal in Birmingham

Carly McNaul is guaranteed to win at least a bronze medal in Birmingham

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Antrim teen Nicole Clyde was defeated by Nitu Ghanghas

Antrim teen Nicole Clyde was defeated by Nitu Ghanghas

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Carly McNaul is guaranteed to win at least a bronze medal in Birmingham

Carly McNaul’s son Jaden arrives in Birmingham today. She can’t wait to see him and give him a big hug.

The 33-year-old’s eyes lit up speaking about her boy in the interview area at the NEC, as she guaranteed herself a medal at the Commonwealth Games for a second time.

McNaul had just defeated Sri Lanka’s Keshani Hansika with a controlled performance in the Quarter-Finals of the Light Flyweight division. This was an impressive display, much better than the ‘terrible’ effort – in Carly’s own words – that saw her gain a split decision against Australia’s Kirsty Harris in the previous round.

Four years on from claiming Commonwealth silver on the Gold Coast, McNaul is certain of bronze in 2022 but with a Semi-Final on Saturday and potential decider on Sunday, the determined and likeable lady from east Belfast is hungry for more.

Gold is McNaul’s target, overcoming a broken femur, torn hand tendons, an eye operation and Covid-19 in recent years to reach this point.

Accomplished in the ring, she has serious grit out of it. So, what keeps her going?

“My love for boxing, my love for my son,” she said.

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“I’ll never give it up, I have a dream and I’ll keep going until I can’t no more. The coaches say I’ve got great resilience, I just love boxing, I love to fight.”

Gleaming as she talked about 12-year-old Jaden, McNaul added: “He’s coming here tomorrow (Thursday) to support me, I can’t wait to see him. Love you to bits son.”

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Antrim teen Nicole Clyde was defeated by Nitu Ghanghas

Antrim teen Nicole Clyde was defeated by Nitu Ghanghas

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Antrim teen Nicole Clyde was defeated by Nitu Ghanghas

Reflecting on her 5-0 victory on the judges’ scorecards, a contented McNaul expressed: “I’m over the moon to get a better performance than the last one. The first fight was very scrappy and a very high pace, I told everyone I was terrible and would come out and put on a better performance in the next fight which I’ve done.

“The next one will be better again. The tactics I was given worked really well for me. I was able to relax in there.

“I was disappointed in my last performance because I wasn’t able to do anything that I had been working on. That was kind of like the old me. I wasn’t able to show stuff after saying I had a lot to give so this time I was happy. I showed what I can do and not just be scrappy, coming forward and fighting through the heart. I’ve got skills as well.

“It’s great to win but I am here for the gold. You all know that. As my performances go on I’ll get better and better.”

McNaul says the mood in the Team NI boxing squad – led by well-respected Ulster High Performance Director John Conlan – is brilliant, adding that all involved are enjoying the support they are receiving from their family and friends in the stands and the locals in Birmingham.

The Ormeau Road Boxing Club fighter said: “You just feel like those people out there know you. You’re walking out and they’re all giving you high fives, it’s just a completely different atmosphere (to the Gold Coast). It feels like it’s much bigger as well, it’s great to feel this atmosphere and be part of the whole thing.”

Next up for McNaul in the Semi-Final is Teddy Nakimuli from Uganda, who got a bye into the Quarter-Finals and a walkover into the last-four after Sierra Leone’s Sara Haghighat-Joo failed to make the weight.

Just before McNaul’s victory in the afternoon session, there was disappointment for team-mate Nicole Clyde who was beaten by India’s Nitu Ghanghas in the Minimumweight class.

The 19-year-old from Antrim was unlucky to be paired with the likely gold medal winner in the Quarter-Final draw, and while Clyde was game and tried not to take a backward step, the teenager was picked off time and time again by the 21-year-old which left her corner with little option but to pull her out of the contest at the end of the second round.

Clyde was understandably emotional post-fight but will learn from the experience and hopefully come again.


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