CILL na Martra boxer Christina Desmond (22) has Olympic ambitions despite receiving no significant financial support.
Speaking to The Southern Star following her win on Irish Elite Finals night in Dublin last Saturday, the former European bronze medallist said: ‘Boxing doesn’t get as much funding as it should. It’s one of the leading sports in the country. It brings home the most medals.
‘All my teammates are exceptional girls. They train phenomenally and we bring home the results. It’s hard then when you have to come home and there’s no recognition for it. And every sportswoman in the country could say the same thing,’ the soon-to-be qualified Garda said.
Desmond doesn’t receive a Sport Ireland grant so misses out on the vital funding she needs, though she is part of the Irish Athletic Boxing Association’s High Performance unit so when they train she gets food and expenses.
The Fr Horgan’s club woman was involved in what was arguably the fight of the night at the National Stadium in Dublin on Saturday, taking a 3-2 split decision against the well-fancied defending champion Grainne Walsh in the welterweight (69kg) decider.
‘It was unbelievable. It was a great win, one of my best in the National Stadium so I’m delighted,’ said an ebullient Desmond who was speaking on the latest Star Sport Podcast.
Having campaigned successfully at middleweight (75kg) in the past, Desmond recently made the switch to welterweight (69kg) and she says she’s much more comfortable at her more natural weight.
‘Now that the 69kg category has been added, (to the Olympics) it wasn’t even a question. I had to move down. Myself and my coaches decided that 69kg was my weight. I feel better, I feel fitter and I feel more confident in the ring.’
With the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo around the corner, Desmond is a name on everyone’s lips but having spent extended periods of time on the sideline through injury in the recent months she’s keen to bask in her latest glories for now.
‘To be honest with you, when I was out with injury my biggest thing was to be back for an Elite championships. That’s all I was thinking of. Now I’m at that stage where everyone is saying “where to now” and I don’t even know myself.
‘The European Games, European Championships and World Championships are all on this year so it’s a massive year regardless of Olympic qualifiers. I’m now in the number one spot so I should be going away without question,’ beamed the confident 22-year-old.
Training to be a Garda alongside her boxing career is no mean feat but Desmond has a strong support structure around her which she says makes everything tick.
‘I’m very lucky to have my dad at home. He’s a massive massive supporter. He’d do anything to give me a helping hand and to help me through it.
‘All my friends and family are very good too and you know what - the main thing is the head. If the head is right, you’ll do it.’
With an attitude like that, the support of her family and friends and bags of ability, it would be a brave person who backed against Desmond showing up in Tokyo next summer with genuine medal aspirations.