Today carrying the Irish tricolour and leading her teammates into the new national stadium of Japan for the opening ceremony of the 32nd Olympic Games, boxer Kellie Harrington's road to success wasn't always so smooth.
Olympian and Irish boxer Kellie Harrington knows all about fighting to win. She won the gold medal in the lightweight division at the 2018 Women’s World Boxing Championships and was the silver medallist in the light welterweight division at the 2016 Women’s World Boxing Championships. But our Irish Tatler Women of the Year Sports award winner in 2019 was never in it for the medals. She’s proud to train, to box, to be herself.
When I started it wasn’t to win medals. It was to be a different person.
“I don’t care what other people think of me,” she told the Irish Times in 2019. “Medals mean nothing to me. I’m just happy about the place I’m in right now, of how happy my family are, the person I’ve become. Medals are bonuses. When I started it wasn’t to win medals. It was to be a different person.”
Harrington wasn’t academically minded when it came to school (she says it wasn’t a disciplined environment for her), so she sought another path. At 14, she was told girls don’t box, but at 16 she joined Corinthians Boxing Club. She signed up with the educational program Youthreach and was happy to be out of a uniform, but at 18, she joined the army, dreaming of being a soldier. However, it wasn’t to be and she left a few months later. And so, she went back to boxing and her persistence paid off; in 2018 she became a lightweight world champion after winning the title in India.
I’m Kellie Harrington. I train. I box. I work on the weekends.
Due to an injury, Harrington had to pull out of her European Games final in Minsk, taking home the silver medal in the 60kg division. Speaking of her success, Harrington says: “I’m Kellie Harrington. I train. I box. I work on the weekends. I am a northeast inner city ambassador. And I’m proud of that.”
Someone as inspirational as Kellie Harrington is easy to believe in. We'll be rooting for her and her fellow Olympic teammates in Tokyo.