In a fiercely contested battle against Poland’s Elzbieta Wojcik, Ireland’s Aoife O’Rourke secured her place on the plane to Paris and will now vie for gold in the women’s middleweight final on Sunday.
This victory marks O’Rourke’s fifth consecutive win over Wojcik, highlighting her dominance in their previous encounters. Despite Wojcik’s strong start, claiming the first round 4-1 with the support of her home crowd, O’Rourke rallied in the second round, spurred on by the unwavering chants of the Irish supporters. With their resounding cheers drowning out the cries of ‘Polska, Polska,’ the Roscommon native clinched the second round 4-1. The final round proved scrappy as both fighters fatigued, but O’Rourke showcased her resilience and determination, emerging victorious with a split decision of 3-2.
Overwhelmed with joy, the Tokyo Olympian expressed her elation at securing her second Olympic Games appearance. She remarked, “I don’t know what to say; I’m lost for words. I’m absolutely over the moon. That was a tough, tough battle. No matter how many times I meet that girl, it’s a battle every time, and it was to the wire today. So fair play to her as well. I’m delighted it was my day, though, and I got the ticket. No doubt she’ll qualify later in the year.”
Reflecting on the pressure to qualify, O’Rourke emphasized the importance of performance rather than solely focusing on the result. She shared her approach, stating, “It wasn’t about the result; it was more about the performance…get in and do my best, that’s all anyone can do, and if your best is good enough, results will show. I’m just delighted that all my hard work has paid off. We’ve been training really, really hard, we’ve had great training camps, and thanks to all the coaches and the rest of the teammates, and our coaches at home in our clubs.”
Commending O’Rourke’s achievement, Irish Boxing Head Coach Zaur Antia emphasized the pursuit of continuous improvement, stating, “Perfection is unlimited; we need to improve every day. This time we think we are not satisfied with just going to the Olympic Games; we want more than that. She did very well; she’s a warrior, she fought well, she worked very hard for what she achieved. It’s not easy to beat the same person four times, in Poland as well. She has made everybody very happy.”
O’Rourke’s remarkable qualification adds to Ireland’s growing success in the boxing arena and further strengthens their prospects at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris.