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First aid Aidan Walsh want to give back to community after Olympic bronze medal win

"It was amazing, I am still pinching myself when I see those images. Is that really me doing that thing, doing the thing I saw when I was a kid"

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Boxer Aidan Walsh

Boxer Aidan Walsh

Boxer Aidan Walsh

Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Aidan Walsh has fond memories of Belfast boxers making triumphant returns to their native city having plundered honours in faraway lands.

There was Paddy Barnes after his bronze medal success at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Two years later, it was the turn of Walsh's boyhood idol Ryan Burnett after he won the gold medal at the Youth Olympics in Singapore, and then Barnes and Michael Conlan after their bronze successes at the London Games nine years ago.

Never in his wildest dreams did the 24 year-old imagine that he would be the focus of a post-Olympic homecoming himself.

"It was amazing, I am still pinching myself when I see those images. Is that really me doing that thing, doing the thing I saw when I was a kid," says Aidan, whose Olympic journey ended after he sustained a fractured ankle when landing awkwardly while celebrating his bronze medal fight win.

"It was something that was unfortunate; you are not travelling out there to get injured, you are going out there to win medals and perform at the highest level. To win a bronze medal, I would have given anything for it. So to be sitting here with a bronze is amazing."

The Belfast welterweight retains a positive outlook on life. For him, it's about focusing on controlling the controllables.

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Aidan Walsh says he’ll remain in the amateur side of the sport for now.

Aidan Walsh says he’ll remain in the amateur side of the sport for now.

Aidan Walsh says he’ll remain in the amateur side of the sport for now.

He adds: "I don't know what the future holds - I'm always just optimistic and positive, focusing on the things I'd like to happen. They don't always happen but I'm just grateful for the things that have happened for me in my life so far.

"Going forward, I just want to be the best person that I can be, be a role model to kids in a good way because I had good role models to look up to and still do.

"I just always refer back to Muhammad Ali's quote: 'What you do for other people is the rent you pay on earth'. If you're paying other people with respect then you can't go too far wrong.

"I want to help as many people as I can and I know mental health is a massive thing at the minute," continues the athlete, whose sister Michaela Walsh is also a champion amateur boxer.

"I'd love to get into a charity doing that because young kids growing up, there's obviously a lot of things that aren't good. If I could even help one kid in my area."

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Aidan and big sister Michaela created history in Tokyo when they became the first siblings to compete in an Olympic boxing tournament.

With the Paris Olympics now less than three years away, however, he says he's not planning to go professional any time soon: "For me, amateur boxing is where I want to be at the minute."

  • Aidan Walsh was speaking at the launch of the 2021 Federation of Irish Sport Volunteers awards, sponsored by EBS

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