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shining star In her ascent of Mount Olympus, Kellie Harrington composed a hymn to sport's finest possibilities

It is not only within a roped rectangle of canvass that she mines nuggets of gold

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Pictured is Olympic Gold Medallist and newly announced SPAR Brand Ambassador Kellie Harrington at St Mary’s Boxing Club, Tallaght, Dublin.

Pictured is Olympic Gold Medallist and newly announced SPAR Brand Ambassador Kellie Harrington at St Mary’s Boxing Club, Tallaght, Dublin.

Pictured is Olympic Gold Medallist and newly announced SPAR Brand Ambassador Kellie Harrington at St Mary’s Boxing Club, Tallaght, Dublin.

The imperishable summer of 2021 will forever have Kellie Harrington’s signature etched onto its title deeds.

Ireland’s Cleopatra married competitive grit and superior skills with a personality that radiated integrity, positivity, and unshakeable decency to deliver a lyrical, enduring August poem.

Her smile and her tears were sunshine and showers harvesting days that will never die.

The convulsion of joy that began in Portland Row diffused across the nation’s every last square foot, Kellie announcing herself as a thrilling centrepiece for all our hopes.

Those dreamy Tokyo mornings, the ones scorched into the national consciousness, came racing back across the months yesterday as Harrington expanded on her decision to decline lucrative offers to turn professional.

One of the wonders of listening to Kellie is her natural-born capacity to distil a subject to its essence, to impart lovely, down-to-earth wisdom almost every time she speaks.

It is not only within a roped rectangle of canvass that she mines nuggets of gold.

In case you missed it, here was the 32-year-old’s reasoning for rejecting the embrace of moneyed prize-fighting.

“I feel that amateur boxing is about clubs, grassroots and community. You become a part of a family and you build relationships with people in the clubs.”

There is an eloquence and sense of belonging at the core of those sentiments that is authentically spinetingling.

And then there was this.

“(At) professional (level), they’re like sharks…from looking in, that’s what I feel…it is a business and people are out to make (money) off you. They’re not really out for your welfare, they’re just out to line the pocket of themselves,” she said.

“For me, that’s not what sport is about. At the moment, I’m in a sport and it’s also a profession, but if I was to turn professional, it would be a business and I ain’t no businesswoman.”

Rather, (and we hope this doesn’t stray into the territory of schmaltz) she is a foot-perfect ambassador for the inner-city. In word and deed she oozes the upbeat, can-do, principled values instilled in her by family, community and the ascetic lifestyle demanded of an elite athlete.

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Kellie Harrington celebrates her gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics

Kellie Harrington celebrates her gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics

Kellie Harrington celebrates her gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics

A force for the ages.

In her ascent of Mount Olympus, Harrington composed a hymn to sport’s finest possibilities: The capacity to unite and inspire, to unlock the doors of hope.

She painted a picture of her homeplace at odds with lazy media caricatures that cast it in a dismal shade.

Harrington offered an education of all the inner-city can be, and is, on a daily basis, a vibrant, multi-dimensional place.

Just a few hours after her golden tango on the far side of the world, Cork and Kilkenny contested an All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park.

Eager to bask in the afterglow of the morning’s delirious twinkle, many of us took a detour up Portland Row.

It may sound overblown, but there was a light-headed sense of a congregation advancing toward a sacred shine, walking a restorative Camino.

Gliding beneath the tricolour bunting, crimson-shirted Rebels, black and amber Cats, and those of us from the neutral corners, felt weightless and vividly alive.

From the lad who knocked on the door of the Harrington family home with the gift of a pack of spuds, to those of us who applauded and took pictures, there was an overwhelming desire to say a simple "thank you".

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Kellie Harrington falls to her knees after winning gold in Tokyo. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Kellie Harrington falls to her knees after winning gold in Tokyo. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Kellie Harrington falls to her knees after winning gold in Tokyo. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

To feel part of a special day.

There was a brotherhood in being. Here were a few moments dappled in the kind of beauty that touches the marrow so completely that it is certain to linger and glimmer for as long as we draw breath.

Sport, as those present in the Aviva last Saturday (or at any of the GAA county finals that midwifed intoxicating stories into the world) will testify, can touch us in the most profound fashion.

When success is conjoined with a warmth of spirit, when it is so easy to relate to and cheer for the epic story’s author, that is when the moment rises up to transcend boundaries and backgrounds.

It comes to occupy a room in the soul.

Kellie Harrington gifted Ireland priceless days of thunder as she added her name to the role call of Olympic immortals.

Reading her latest words today is to be reminded that a diamond shines in our midst.

To once more give thanks for a glittering gemstone who permits us all to feel a richness of the heart.

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