Burke insists focus has not changed for Bates and Harrington

By Stephen Leonard

ST MARY’S Boxing Club Coach Noel Burke firmly believes the scrapping of the World Olympic qualifier will not affect the focus of his fighters George Bates and Kellie Harrington as they continue their drive towards securing passage to Tokyo this summer.

The final global qualifier, which had been scheduled to take place in Paris in June, has been cancelled as a result of travel restrictions due to the Covid crises as well as the fact that the final European qualifier has been postponed until June.

George Bates 1

George Bates

It means that the Olympic berths that would have been determined in Paris will now be allocated to the highest ranking non-qualified boxer from each continent in each weight division.

Yet Burke insists that both Bates and Harrington are totally focused on making the cut through the European route anyway and that the cancellation of the global qualifier will serve to eliminate another possible distraction in that endeavour.

The two saw their bid for a place at the Tokyo Games put on hold after the postponement of the European qualifiers mid-tournament in London last March.

For Tallaght man, Bates, that was a particularly agonising decision as he was just one fight away from a place in the quarter finals and, with it, a ticket to the Olympics.

Kellie Harrington 1

Kellie Harrington

Indeed he had secured passage through to the last 16 following his victory over Leon Dominguez of Spain, which had set him up for a pivotal clash with Azerbaijan’s Javid Chalabiyev.

“Things haven’t really changed for George” said Burke.

“There’s no world qualifier alright, but I think that will allow him to concentrate even better on the European qualifier.

“He’s flying at the moment. He’s in great form and he was sparring Team GB in Belfast last week. He got in four really good spars.

“For Kellie, the ranking points from her World title win and the fact that she got to the European Games Final [in 2019 when she had to withdraw through injury] means she should be top of the rankings in Europe.

“But, Kellie’s not even thinking like that.

“She’s just focused on the European qualifiers- the first fight, first round, first minute. That’s the way she thinks” he stressed.

Yet first up for the two St Mary’s boxers will be a trip to Bulgaria to compete in next week’s Strandja Multi-Nations in Sofia.

“They’re really looking forward to this” said Burke. “It’s been a while since they’ve been in real competitive action.

“And I know they’re very appreciative that they’re able to compete because they understand that so many people can’t do anything right now. They know they’re in a very privileged position.”

Prev Coronavirus: 47 further deaths and 901 new cases
Next #LoveWhereYouLive and check out our top 5 Instagram nature posts…
  • Light House in Kilnamanagh gets decorated for Easter
  • Scrap yard fire Greenhills Road
  • A Happy St Patrick’s Day from Dublin Fire Brigade
  • Happy St Patrick's Day 2021
  • Food table in Tallaght

Will you watch the Harry and Meghan interview with Oprah?

We use cookies to improve your experience on our site, personalise content, provide social media features, analyse our traffic, show you relevant advertising and to target and report on ads. By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies that may process personal data for these purposes.