Ireland’s latest Olympic boxing medalist has revealed that he almost quit the sport three years ago for personal reasons.
Aidan Walsh dazzled in Tokyo yesterday in securing Team Ireland’s third medal of these Games and the 34th overall.
He is the 15th boxer to reach the Olympic podium – 16 medals have been won in the ring, and Paddy Barnes has won two of them.
Now ten of them have been won out of Belfast.
His deserved quarter-final victory against Mauritius welterweight Merven Clair guarantees at least bronze for the 24-year-old Monkstown BC man.
Walsh will fight in the semi-final tomorrow, as long as a ‘slight’ ankle sprain doesn’t impede him, and the opportunity is there to win silver or gold.
But this chance seemed impossible just a few years ago, reports the Irish Mirror.
“I was ready to pack in boxing three years ago, seriously I was,” said Walsh.
“My family and girlfriend and coaches supported me, since I’ve moved down to Dublin, the coaches have supported me massively.
“It’s just been amazing since then, an incredible journey. I won the Ulster Elites, I won the Ireland Elites, qualified for the Olympics and now I’m an Olympic medalist three years on.”
Aidan Walsh (Image: Getty Images)
Walsh elaborated: “There was just a lot of stuff going on in my personal life, that was just really hard to overcome and I did, thanks to the support of my girlfriend, family and coaches.
“I wasn’t even on the Irish team for the last Olympics, I only came onto the Irish team about two or three years ago and since then the coaches have been amazing and then my own coach, Paul Johnston, my mother, my father, girlfriend, sisters, I’ve just so much people to thank for their support.
“It’s just an amazing journey so far and I just want to keep it going and going.”
He has been roared on at the Kokugikan Arena by his sister Michaela, who is also a part of the boxing team at the Games,
Describing her after his victory as his best friend, he added: “I would actually cut the medal in half and give her half of it, that’s how much she means.”
Having that support is massive to Walsh, who will now look for revenge against 26-year-old Sunderland boxer Pat McCormack – his conqueror in the Commonwealth Games’ 69kg final in 2018.
“For me, it’s an opponent at the end of the day,” he reflected.
“He’s fighting Ireland’s Aidan Walsh and I’m fighting England at 69kg.
“It’s going to be good, I’m looking forward to it.”
So no qualms about facing him? “That’s it, no qualms,” replied Walsh.
“You always have to believe in yourself and be confident you can do the business.”
Walsh was on an absolute high after leaping into the air to celebrate his victory – resulting in the sprain
But he insists he will come down to earth quickly to be ready for McCormack.
He reasoned: “You just have to reset yourself and go again.
“I just live moment to moment, I’m not worried about the next day, I’m just living in the here and now and enjoying this moment.
“The fight’s over and I’m looking forward to the next one.”