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Kell of the ball Kellie Harrington 'speechless' as she books place in Olympic final

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Kellie Harrington of Ireland celebrates after defeating Sudaporn Seesondee

Kellie Harrington of Ireland celebrates after defeating Sudaporn Seesondee

Kellie Harrington of Ireland celebrates after defeating Sudaporn Seesondee

Kellie Harrington is through to the Olympic lightweight final and will fight for the gold medal on Sunday.

The 31-year-old Dubliner defeated Thailand’s Sudaporn Seesondee in a tight and tactical semi-final at the Kokugikan Arena this morning. She prevailed by the narrowest of margins on a split 3-2 decision. The scores told their own story 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, 28-29, 28-29.

The pair had clashed in the final of the World championships in New Delhi three years ago when Harrington prevailed by the narrowest of margins.

Kellie Harrington has said she ‘eats, sleeps and breaths boxing’

Reacting to being guaranteed an Olympic silver medal she said: “It is fantastic to be an Olympic silver medallist. That’s the stuff that people dream about. Many tried to get there, many don’t have what it takes to succeed because they don’t have the will power, the determination, the focus, the dedication.

“I’ve had heartbreak. I know what it is to fail and I know what how it is to pick yourself back up after that. This is why I am who I am, and why I am here today – because I’n not afraid of failure. I know what is is. I’m Kellie Harrington. I’m myself and I make my own pathway.”

“I’m a little bit lost for words. I’m speechless. I don’t really know how I feel, said Harrington who will meet World champion Beatriz Ferreira from Brazil in Sunday’s lightweight gold medal final.

Asked whether she was concerned about the judge’s verdict she pointed out that the contest followed the same pattern as the 2018 World championship final against the Thai fighter.

“It was a chess match then; it was a chess match today. She’s very, very tricky. I wasn’t getting inside to get a bang because she hits hard with her back hand. She was throwing shots to the body, but they were literally skimming my shirt.

The Irish champion has the ability to switch between an orthodox and southpaw stance but Seesondee, a south paw, is a teak-opponent.

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Kellie Harrington of Ireland reacts after defeating Sudaporn Seesondee of Thailand

Kellie Harrington of Ireland reacts after defeating Sudaporn Seesondee of Thailand

Kellie Harrington of Ireland reacts after defeating Sudaporn Seesondee of Thailand

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The pair stalked each other early in the contest and after a minute the referee instructed both boxers to engage; he did it again later in the round as neither fighter was prepared to step forward. The fight was desperately close and equally difficult to mark but crucially three of the judges gave Harrington the round.

Harrington was marginally faster to the punch and avoided most of Seesondee’s shots. There was slightly more action in the second but it was another tough round to score. Three judges gave her the round but the contest was far from over.

Harrington had a two point lead on two judges’ cards; it was level on two others, while the Thai was two points ahead on the fifth judge’s card. The fight was in the melting pot.

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Kellie Harrington of Ireland walks to the ring

Kellie Harrington of Ireland walks to the ring

Kellie Harrington of Ireland walks to the ring

There was definitely more action in the third round as the two fighters knew everything was on the line. The Thai boxer raised her arms in celebrations at the bell but ultimately it was down to the judges after an anticipated tactical contest. But Harrington got the nod on a split 3-2 decision. It was as close as everyone had anticipated.

Harrington joins a select band of eight Irish boxers who have contested Olympic finals following in the footsteps of John McNally (1952), Fred Tiedt (1956), Michael Carruth and Wayne McCullough (1992), Kenneth Egan (2008), John Joe Nevin and Katie Taylor (2012).

Only Carruth and Taylor ultimately secured gold so Harrington will be aiming for an Irish trick on Sunday. Her achievement in winning the semi-final enhances Ireland’s reputation in women’s boxing.

The women’s lightweight final will only be the third in the history of the Olympics but two of them will have been contested by Irish women.

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