Commonwealth Games gold ‘would mean everything’ to boxer Michaela Walsh

Boxer Michaela Walsh is more determined than ever to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games as she prepares for her third tilt at the multi-sport showcase.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Monday, 20th June 2022, 4:50 pm

As a 21-year-old at the Glasgow event in 2014, Walsh faced England’s Nicola Adams in the first-ever women’s boxing final for a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.

After four pulsating rounds many shrew observers thought the Team NI boxer had done enough to finish top of the podium but the ringside judges gave Adams the nod on a split decision.

Four years later at the Gold Coast, Walsh reached the Commonwealth Games final once again - facing home favourite, Australia’s Skye Nicolson.

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Michaela Walsh is relishing the chance to step back into the Commonwealth Games ring. Pic by Getty.

In another close fight, Walsh suffered again at the hands of the judges losing on a 3-2 decision.

“It would mean everything to win a gold medal, the Commonwealth Games is such a big tournament for me, it would have been one of my first ever big tournaments,” said Walsh. “To have two silver medals is something that I am very proud of, to win a gold it is something that burns deep inside of me after losing out and being so, so close.

“This time I hope I can use that drive and go one step further and take home the gold.”

It will be the second Commonwealth Games that Walsh will go to with her brother Aidan, he also won a silver medal in Australia four years ago.

“It’s my third Commonwealth Games, every one is different and I’m really looking forward to it,” she said. “Obviously to go again with my brother is very proud for me, Aidan and the family.

“I think this time we can go one better than the silver and take home the gold.

“It was a great experience, it was sort of good we both got silver because I would have been raging if he had got a gold and I didn’t!

“It was great for both of us to get to the final and to be so close to a gold medal and when I look back it means more to me that we both got to go together and experience it together in Australia.”

“We had a training camp and everything out there before it, it was a great tournament, and it is something that I am very proud of.”

The Walsh siblings were also part of the Ireland team that went to last summer’s Olympics, with Aidan winning a bronze medal.

“Tokyo was amazing, it would have been great to have my family, friends and everyone there but obviously with Covid it couldn’t be done,” she said. “I was just so happy to be able to go and compete at the Olympics, to see my brother win a medal was unbelievable so it was good that way.”

Aidan was unable to fight in the semi-final after damaging his ankle celebrating his quarter-final win.

“He’s an unbeaten Olympian, I think he would have won the high jump so they should have given him the gold for that...but his ankles are all good now, so he is lucky that way,” she said. “I had a very close fight with Irma Testa of Italy (last 16), we have fought three times and it is 2-1 to her, so hopefully I can get her back in a tournament later on in the future.

“Italy aren’t in the Commonwealths unfortunately so I’ll have to wait to get her back later on in the year.”

Walsh was also unlucky to miss out on a medal at the recent World Championships in Turkey where Team NI colleague Amy Broadhurst struck gold.

“I was so close to winning a world medal, overall, I finished fifth in the world along with Carly (McNaul),” she said. “It was a great tournament, I had three great fights and three great performances so they got me ready for the Commonwealth Games, so we have six weeks now of hard work and, hopefully, I can be standing on that number one spot on the podium in Birmingham.”

Boxing is Team NI’s most successful sport in the Commonwealth Games - producing 61 medals, 13 gold medals, 19 silver medals and 29 bronze medals and Walsh feels the squad fighting in the NEC Arena is very capable of adding to that tally.

“I think in the team they are underestimating the young ones, but I think in Birmingham there are going to be a lot of new stars emerging, especially young Dylan Eagleson who was at the Europeans and got a silver medal,” she said. “I think he is going to be a star of the game so keep an eye out for him.”

There is a strong female representation on the team - McNaul won silver four years ago, Broadhurst is a World champion, Eireann Nugent an Irish champion while Nicole Clyde has enjoyed success at U22 national level.

“Women’s boxing is getting so big,” said Walsh. “Even Eireann for being out so long, we were at a training camp in Italy, Eireann was in with the American girl and the Italians - some of the best in the world - and she was giving them everything, so it just shows you how much she has evolved and how much women’s boxing has evolved.

“I think the girls’ team is so good at the moment and there are going to be a lot of gold medals coming home from this tournament, fingers crossed.”

Unlike Tokyo, Walsh won’t be short of support in Birmingham.

“All my family and friends are going to go over for support, we couldn’t have them there at the Olympic Games, which was very sad because I would have loved to have had family with me,” she said. “But to have them in Birmingham cheering me on...it will mean a lot to me and, hopefully, I can go all the way and show them what their support means to me.”