BY CHRIS MCNULTY
THE reaction said it all.
An ecstatic Michael Gallagher leapt with unbridled joy after defeating Kim Jin-Nyong of Korea to win a bronze medal at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
The Finn Valley ABC heavyweight put in a magnificent display to outgun the AIBA World bronze medalist in the box-off at the Nanjing International Exhibition Center.
It was a dominant display by Gallagher, who rose from the disappointment of a semi-final defeat on Sunday by Cuba’s World champion Yordan Hernandez to secure an Olympic Youth bronze. The 18-year-old with the hammer hands was on top to take a 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 win over the tough Korean.
“Michael was outstanding today against a World Youth medallist,” Irish boxing team manager Stephen Connolly said.
“He worked hard against a tough opponent and kept getting his shots off. He can be very proud of his achievement today.”
Gallagher signalled his intentions from the off, landing some heavy stings to the Korean’s stomach while those trademark power-packed swings were dynamite-fuelled and Jin-Nyong felt their wrath. The Korean youth champion, who trains out of the Kyoung Buk Physical Education High School, ended the round with a cracking left jab, but Gallagher was unmoved and comfortable as he took the stool in the blue corner.
Gallagher continued to probe well with the left jab in round two and a lunging right arm shook Jin-Nyong, by now firmly on the back foot. It was a controlled third round and an ultimately impressive win by Gallagher, a ten-time Irish champion.
Irish coach Billy McClean said: “He has good reason to be delighted as he was outstanding today against a tough opponent, an opponent that won bronze at the World Youths. We’re delighted with the win.”
Gallagher had been beaten by Hernandez 24 hours earlier, the same boxer he lost to at the quarterfinal stage of the World Youth Championships in Sofia. However a subsequent win over Thomas Oomen (Netherlands) saw Gallagher qualify for Nanjing.
After spending some time at a pre-Games training camp in Hong Kong, Gallagher opened his account with a fine win on Saturday against Maksim Kazlou of Belarus.
Jin-Nyong lost his semifinal against Croatian Toni Filipi, but it’s Gallagher who’ll take his place on the podium on Tuesday.
Gallagher is one of three Irish boxers in China with two medals set to return home. Cork middleweight Christina Desmond, pictured lost out in her bronze medal box-off to Caitlin Parker, but Mayo lightweight Ciara Ginty takes on Jajaira Gonzalez of the USA, the 2014 AIBA World Youth champion, In Tuesday’s final.
Gallagher’s win is the latest international success for the Finn Valley club.
Gallagher was a bronze medalist at the 2010 European Schoolboy Championships while his younger brother Leon was a bronze winner at the 2013 European Schoolboy Championships and Austeja Auciute won bronze at the 2011 Women’s World Youth and Junior Championships in Turkey, not to mention Jason Quigley’s haul of honours around the world.
Peter O’Donnell, the President of the Donegal Boxing Board, hailed Gallagher’s success. “It’s an absolutely fabulous achievement to win an Olympic medal,” he said.
“Michael has done his family, his club and his county so proud. He continues to have success at the top level of the sport and this is his biggest win yet. To be on the podium in China at these Games is fantastic. Everyone in Donegal boxing should be delighted with his win.”