Kellie Harrington closed out the Olympics boxing competition earning gold for Ireland and Team LGBTQ. The top-ranked fighter heading into the women’s lightweight Olympic tournament lived up to the billing by defeating Brazil’s Beatriz Ferreira in Sunday’s gold medal bout.
The final pit the last two women’s lightweight world champions against one another with Olympic glory on the line. Ferreira’s aggressive precision held strong against the patience and counters showcased by Harrington.
The Irish fighter weathered an intense first round and never looked back, winning the fight by unanimous decision.
The remaining members of the Irish boxing contingent celebrated from the balcony as the typically stoic Harrington grew teary-eyed and let the moment sink in, embracing Ferreira and falling to her knees in disbelief.
“There have been times in my career when people say the whole country is behind you,” Harrington told RTE Sport. “This time I really, really feel the whole country is behind me. Just being here and putting our little nation on the map, this is the stuff of dreams.”
The win cements the Dublin native in the annals of Irish sports history. Harrington’s victory makes her the second Irish woman to win gold in boxing since its addition to the Olympics in 2012 and only the third Irish woman to reach the top of an Olympic podium in any sport.
The moment also served as a perfect bookend to the Tokyo Games for the Irish technician. Harrington kicked off the games as the flag bearer for Team Ireland during the Opening Ceremony, one of six publicly out LGBTQ Olympians to do so this year.
Harrington’s friends and family celebrated her win in the streets Sunday morning, but famed Irish sports reporter Des Cahill made sure that Harrington’s partner, Mandy, wasn’t lost among the crowd of supporters.
“Don’t forget one of the unsung heroes — naturally delighted for Christy, Yvonne, Kellie’s brothers and her community. But lots of credit and love for Kellie’s partner, Mandy, who has played a huge supporting role in [Harrington’s] Olympics success,” Cahill tweeted. “Well done, Mandy!”