London’s calling for Cill na Martra welterweight Christina Desmond

March 12th, 2020 1:00 PM

By Jack McCarron

Christina Desmond celebrates her victory in the women's welterweight 69kg at the 2019 National Elite Championship finals at the National Stadium, Dublin.

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FEW 23-year-olds have lived a life as full as Christina Desmond and the Cill na Martra boxer is only getting started.

In the last year alone the Fr Horgan’s fighter has won two National Elite finals, both shown live on TG4, finished in the top eight at both the World and European championships and qualified to serve as a member of An Garda Síochana.

She’s trained alongside the likes of Katie Taylor, Joe Ward, Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes and has taken it all in her stride.

On Friday the journey continues with Desmond set to lace up her gloves at the Copper Box Arena in London’s east end in a bid to secure Olympic Games’ qualification for this summer’s spectacular in Tokyo, starting in July.

In total, 27 Olympic places across five weight classes will be up for grabs for female boxers in London and Desmond is well-positioned to claim one.

‘I think I have to get top six in Europe. I’m fifth at the moment coming off the Worlds and Europeans last year. It all depends on the draw really,’ she said when speaking on the latest Star Sport Podcast, which you can listen to now via all the major podcast apps.

Her performances at international level in 2019 ensured she couldn’t be overlooked for selection for London and the Dungarvan-based southpaw was quietly confident before the team was announced.

‘I would have been shocked if I wasn’t picked. I put on a good show all year – I was fit, I was ready and I was able. If they hadn’t picked me I would have lost all faith in the selection process.’

That level of assuredness hasn’t always been to the forefront for Desmond though.

Like any elite athlete there is self-doubt at times but one can only admire the mantra Christina adopts when asked if the doubts linger.

‘They’re always there but I know I am strong enough to beat any girl. Once you believe that, what more could you want?’

If Desmond fails to secure her ticket to Tokyo while in London, she’ll likely get another chance in Paris in May but unlike many boxers operating at her level she’s keen to ensure that the sport doesn’t define her.

‘Everyone thinks that boxing is the main thing in my life but I don’t see it like that. Behind the boxer there’s a person. I love going back to the [Garda] station and being treated as a person rather than a boxer,’ she said.

On balancing life as a boxer with her career as a Garda Desmond is typically forthright.

‘I haven’t had a day off since Christmas. It’s not been easy. I’d love just a day at home in Cork to do nothing. The family are wondering will I ever come home. But I love it. My station is very good to me and my unit and Superintendent Michael Lacey have been top class.’

Few would begrudge Desmond a day or two of doing nothing and maybe when she returns from the UK’s capital she’ll be afforded that opportunity.

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