Kellie Harrington celebrating with her gold medal after the women's lightweight boxing Olympic final. Alamy Stock Photo

'An inspiration': Ireland sends its congratulations as Kellie Harrington claims gold in Tokyo

“Hers is an exceptional achievement, and she is an inspiration for us all,” Michael D Higgins said.

LAST UPDATE | Aug 8th 2021, 12:48 PM

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins and many others have congratulated Ireland’s Kellie Harrington on her triumph in the women’s lightweight boxing Olympics final.

Harrington defeated Brazilian fighter Beatriz Ferreira this morning on the final day of the Tokyo 2020 games to join Katie Taylor and Michael Carruth as the nation’s Olympic gold medalists in boxing. 

President Michael D Higgins issued his “warmest congratulations” to Harrington on Twitter.

“Hers is an exceptional achievement, and she is an inspiration for us all.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also congratulated the gold medalist and the “epic Olympics final”. 

“Brilliant fight. Your family community and country overjoyed for you,” Martin said

Harrington’s mother Yvonne said she did not watch the fight and only learned of her daughter’s victory when she heard the cheers from family and friends.

Yvonne Harrington said: “We are all just delighted.”

“She deserved it. We heard all the people cheering and we knew she won it.

I would give her a big hug and say well done.

Harrington’s father said he was “speechless”. 

“As the fight was going on, Kellie was stronger mentally and physically.”

tokyo-2020-olympic-games The family and friends of Irish boxer Kellie Harrington celebrate her gold medal in Dublin (Damian Eagers/PA)

Kellie’s brother Christopher said: “It was iconic and it will take a while to see it it happen again.

“Can’t wait to get her home on Tuesday.”

Speaking to RTÉ radio this afternoon, Christopher said the highlight for him was “seeing what Kellie brought to her community”.

“Just seeing everybody out together watching the fight and the big screen up in the close, [and] after the fight seeing everybody on the street and just knowing that Kellie’s done that for her community, for her county and for her country,” he said. 

“She deserves everything. The work that she’s put in, the position that she in, it’s all come to fruition.”

For us, and for me knowing Kellie, it would mean more to Kellie to lift the people of this area, the people of Ireland, more than winning an Olympic gold medal. 

He said the gold medalist “enjoys the simple things in life” and he hopes she will have privacy and time to settle down after returning home to Dublin on Tuesday. 

Speaking after the win, Kellie Harrington said: “I feel relief, we are all champions, anyone who steps between those ropes are champions.

“Every fight has been a tough fight, every fight has been a gold medal fight. It’s fantastic and I can’t wait to get back home and sleep on the couch.

I am exhausted. There has been times in my career when people say the whole country is behind you, this time I really feel the whole country is behind me.

boxer 26 copy Kellie Harrington's parents, friends and family celebrate the gold medal win on Portland Row this morning. Sam Boal Sam Boal

“People might say that’s pressure, that you have weight on your shoulders, but I really didn’t because I know no matter what happened out here today, whether it was gold or silver, I knew I would make myself proud and the people of Ireland proud, regardless of the colour of the medal.”

Michael Carruth, who won a gold medal in boxing at the 1992 Olympics, said he was “so so happy and proud this morning” 

“Enjoy the celebrations, welcome to the club champ,” he wrote on Twitter

The Minister for Culture and Sport Catherine Martin said the win was “the perfect end to Tokyo 2020 and a truly proud day for Ireland”.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said Harrington is an “inspiration” and said this was an “incredible moment” for Irish sport.

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said Harrington “has all the qualities of a true Olympic champion” with “true courage, brilliance and humility”. 

“She represents everything great about being Irish, an Inner City Dub and a class young  Woman. Bravo Legend,” McDonald said on Twitter. 

Eamon Ryan, leader of the Green Party, also said “comhgairdeas” to Harrington this morning

The Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland issued her “congratulations to our Golden Girl”. 

“A brilliant fight to win Gold we are all so proud of you!” she said. 

irelands-kellie-anne-harrington-celebrates-winning-gold-against-brazils-beatriz-ferreira-after-the-womens-light-57-60kg-final-bout-at-the-kokugikan-arena-on-the-sixteenth-day-of-the-tokyo-2020-ol Kellie Harrington after winning gold in the Olympics. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Harrington is from Portland Row in Dublin’s north inner city. In recent years, she has worked as a cleaner at St Vincent’s Hospital in Fairview. 

The hospital issued a statement this morning congratulating her on the gold medal win. 

“Kellie is not just an outstanding sportswoman, but also a valued and dedicated staff member here at the hospital. We are so proud of her and we look forward to seeing her back here at the hospital, at a time that’s convenient for her, in the coming days,” the statement said. 

Dublin City Council said during the week that it is making preparations for her homecoming from the games next week. 

A DCC statement earlier this week said: “Her friends, neighbours, and the local community are understandably keen for the city to mark her wonderful achievement. Dublin City Council is currently exploring what, if anything, can be done to facilitate this.

“Any celebration would have to fully comply with Covid-19 public health restrictions. Unfortunately there can be no formal civic reception on this occasion.” 

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