Kellie Harrington and Brendan Ireland will be Ireland’s flag bearers in the Opening Ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.
Harrington, 31, and Irvine, 25, follow in the footsteps of fellow boxer Katie Taylor, who performed the duty in London nine years ago on her way to gold, while Paddy Barnes was next in line at Rio in 2016.
Dubliner Harrington only qualified for the Games last month by winning her final lightweight box-off in Paris.
The former world champion is one of Team Ireland’s most popular figures, especially given her work on the frontline during the Covid pandemic.
Kellie Harrington of Ireland (blue) during the boxing tournament qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics at Grand Dome
(Image: Getty Images)
“This means so much to me, to be able to represent not only myself as a person, but as a boxer, for boxing, for my family and for Ireland. It’s an amazing honour, there are so many athletes out here, and to be chosen as one of the flagbearers is absolutely fantastic,” said Harrington.
“I can’t believe it really. Walking out there and realising I’m the flagbearer, it’s the start of the Olympic Games, and I’m at the pinnacle of our sport.”
Irvine, whose nickname is ‘Wee Rooster’, was the only Irish boxer to qualify for the Games just prior to lockdown and is the boxing team captain.
The Belfast lightweight booking his place in the London qualifiers in March 2020 before the rest of the competition was cancelled.
Brendan Irvine of Ireland, left, and Istvan Szaka of Hungary during their Men’s Flyweight 52KG Preliminary round bout
(Image: Getty Images)
“I know Brendy a long time now, and he is a fantastic person,” added Harrington.
“He is what you call a leader – he leads the team. I’m so happy that it’s him out there with me.
” I just know we will be looking at each other and smiling.
“We will be feeling so proud, and I know his family and friends and community are quite like mine and everyone will be so proud of our achievements. I’m absolutely delighted.”
Close to half of the record 116 Irish athletes competing at the Games have reached the Olympic village now, with the rowers the first into action on Friday.