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What are the next steps for Kellie Harrington after Olympic triumph?

The Olympics Show basked in the reflected glory of Kellie Harrington's golden final day in Tokyo,...

What are the next steps for Ke...
Off The Ball Radio

What are the next steps for Kellie Harrington after Olympic triumph?

The Olympics Show basked in the reflected glory of Kellie Harrington's golden final day in Tokyo, alongside journalist Kieran Cunningham.

Cunningham believes that there is a likely boost to Irish boxing, but that fans' interest needs to be matched by those in charge of its funding.

"Most people watching her fights at the Olympics have never seen her fight before. It's a very strange sport that way," Cunningham said.

"The best boxer from any country not to medal at the Olympics was Kurt Walker, Aidan Walsh won a medal. I can guarantee you most sports fans in Ireland had not heard of Aidan Walsh or Kurt Walker a couple of weeks ago.

"It is very strange to suddenly be put in the limelight like that, even though Kellie has been on the Late Late Show, she's been on Tommy Tiernan - most people have never seen her fight."

Kellie Harrington: next steps

In the brilliance of that limelight, attention will now turn to what Kellie can do to catalyse this interest into the next stage of her career - if indeed that is her desire.

"Over the next few days you will hear and read a lot of guff about her earning potential, which needs to be taken with a large dollop of salt.

"We've seen that in the past. Michael Carruth [Olympic champion at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona] and I do think he had a very strong year, financially, after the Olympics. He went pro, then worked in Carpet Warehouse and was on the dole for a while. These things often don't work out.

"Kellie can go pro but - bar Katie Taylor - most female pros don't make much money at all. As things stand, she would be in the same weight division as Katie Taylor.

"I would like her to stay in the amateur setup. There's a medal bonus, usually around five figures, and she will get more sponsors now and will do better financially.

"There is an argument that she's on the top podium grant of 40,000 - there's a strong argument to increase it for the likes of Paul O'Donovan and Kellie Harrington.

"When you get into the pro game, there are so many sharks that you don't want to see her get involved with. There's only three years until Paris 2024 - it would be great for continuity's sake if she's there as a standard-bearer and as a role model."

'The stuff of dreams'

Meanwhile, Kellie herself reflected on a day that she will remember for the rest of her life.

"I just can't wait to get back home, sit on the couch and just sleep," Harrington told RTE. "I am absolutely exhausted to be honest.

"I am like a fluffy pigeon going around at this stage! What a journey. There have been times in my career when people have said, 'the whole country is behind you'.

"This time, I really, really feel that the whole country is behind me! People might say that it was pressure, that it would be a weight on my shoulders, but I actually really didn't.

"I knew, no matter what happened out here today, whether it was gold or silver or whatever, I knew that I had made myself proud, and I had made the people of Ireland proud regardless of the colour of the medal.

"Just being here and putting the nation of the map, it is just the stuff of dreams."

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