Kellie Harrington and Aoife O'Rourke won gold medals today at the 73rd International Strandja tournament in Sofia.
Kellie Harrington is known for her Olympic gold medal, but there's always more tournaments to win in amateur boxing.
The Strandja Cup is an annual boxing competition held in Bulgaria. It is the oldest international amateur boxing competition in Europe and it often plays a major role in Olympic qualification. Harrington faced Natalia Shadrina from Serbia in the final today.
Harrington beat Shadrina on all five judges cards. Three of the five judges scored the fight 29-28 in Harrington's favour, while the remaining two called it 30-27 in the Irish woman's favour. It was Harrington's first tournament since the Olympics, so there was plenty of interest in how the 32-year-old would perform.
While Shadrina showed some spirit in the lightweight final, Harrington won the tournament with relative ease. She is sustaining her form from the Olympics, despite the long layoff.
After Harrington won early in the day, Aoife O'Rourke took focus later in the day.
O'Rourke fought in the middleweight final against Atheyna Bylon. Her Panamanian opponent had no chance. O'Rourke outclassed her from start to finish. There was no question about who was going to win gold, despite Bylon coming into the fight with the greater reach and size. O'Rourke smartly controlled her opponent to set her up and pick her apart.
She won the fight by unanimous decision with four of the five judges scoring the fight 30-27. The remaining judge scored it 29-28.
O'Rourke is just 24 years of age. The Roscommon native is not the household name that Harrington is because she didn't win a medal at the Olympics.
But O'Rourke has established herself in boxing already. She won the European Middleweight Championships in 2019. She is an aggressive, energetic fighter who is refining her technique in anticipation of the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
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