Irish boxer Kellie Harrington burst into tears after winning an Olympic gold medal.
On Sunday (8 August), Harrington became the third Irish woman to ever win a gold medal when she beat Brazil’s Beatriz Ferreira in the women’s middleweight final. Hers was one of 32 medals won by out LGBT+ athletes at the Tokyo Games.
Winning the gold with a unanimous decision, Harrington fell to the floor in tears.
Afterwards, she said: “I’m just … like, the hard work, dedication and sacrifice that has gone into this. The lonely moments, the tears, you know what it is like. My family knows, my coach knows, the coaches here know.
“It hasn’t even hit yet. I am crying because I have a sense of relief to be honest. When I get back and in my room on my own or when I get up to the team it will hit. I’m just relieved.”
Irish boxer Kellie Harrington beat Brazil’s Beatriz Ferreira in the women’s middleweight boxing final. (Anadolu Agency via Getty/ Elif Ozturk Ozgoncu)
But Harrington, who works part-time as a cleaner as St Vincent’s psychiatric hospital and encourages the kids in her neighbourhood in Dublin’s north inner-city to get involved in sports, is insistent that being an Olympian won’t “define her”.
She told the Irish Times: “I’m an Olympic champion but it doesn’t define me as a person. I’ll be home, I’d say it will be a bit mental, but I will be going back to work, either in two weeks or three weeks.”
Kellie Harrington wants to inspire kids: ‘They don’t have to be anything only a better version of themselves’
Although she finds it hard to believe, Kellie Harrington does hope that she can encourage kids to always strive to be a “better version of themselves”.
“I can’t believe that I inspire anybody,” she said.
“That’s the hard thing to get my head around. But I know I am in the limelight and I know I have to be a role model and I just want to be the best version of me that I can be so that I can inspire kids and be good role model for kids.
“I want them to bring out the best version of themselves and they don’t have to be Irish champion, world champion, Olympic champion.
“They don’t have to be anything only a better version of themselves and if I can do that I’ll be happy.
“For me I love giving and if I can give someone a little bit of inspiration a little bit get up and go that’s means the world to me.”
Harrington was one of more than 180 out LGBT+ athletes to compete at Tokyo.