Gold medallist Kellie Harrington struggling with new-found fame

Olympic gold medallist Kellie Harrington is having some difficulty adjusting to her new-found celebrity after admitting she has no interest in being famous.

Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 8:00 am
Kellie Harrington talks to the media at Dublin Airport, as the last of the Irish Olympic athletes returned from Tokyo on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old became only the second Irish female boxer to win a medal at the Games after capturing women’s lightweight gold with a unanimous decision win over Beatriz Ferreira in a hard-fought final on the last day of Tokyo 2020.

Harrington is determined to retain her normal lifestyle within the Portland Row community of Dublin – she plans to return to work as a part-time cleaner at St Vincent’s Hospital after a short break – but said the welcome she had received after landing back from Japan on Tuesday was overwhelming.

“Look, I’m not that type of person who goes around saying ‘Oh my God, there’s that person over there, they’re famous’. I’m not a ‘fame hugger’, that’s not me,” she said.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“Fame. What is fame? You can be famous and be a bit of a ‘you know what’.

“My people are in my community and that has taught me the most. There have been people who have reached out to me and I haven’t replied to anyone because I don’t know where to start, it’s kind of been overwhelming.

“People have said ‘You really spoke well’ but that’s just me as a person. What you see is what you get and if you like it you like it and if you don’t that’s your problem.

“It will take me a couple of weeks of not being around the team to actually realise what has happened and what I have achieved.

“I’ve not shed a tear since I came home because I’m feeling exhausted.”

Having touched down in Ireland Harrington will be treated to an open-top bus ride through her local community before catching up with family and friends.

But afterwards she intends to spend her well-earned downtime doing all the things she was not allowed to in the build-up to the Games.

“As boring as it sounds I just want to put my feet up on a chair, watch some telly, drinking tea, having scones or cakes – stuff I can actually eat now and not have to get up every morning and check my weight,” she said.