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Lithuania Wins First-Ever Gold as Ireland Scores Double on First Day of Finals

Gabriele Stonkute has won Lithuania’s first-ever medal in style by clinching gold at the Women’s World Boxing Championships. The 21-year-old won the light heavyweight (81kg) final against Poland’s Oliwia Toborek.

“This is a historical moment for Lithuania, we have never claimed any gold medals yet at this level. We were expecting a medal but not the gold one. We changed the tactics after the first round, I had to deliver more uppercuts and I followed the instructions. I am sure I will have some celebrations at home,” said Stonkute.

The first day of finals in Istanbul saw six champions crowned Thursday at the Basaksehir Arena in the minimumweight (48kg), flyweight (52kg), featherweight (57kg), light welterweight (63kg), light middleweight (70kg) and light heavyweight (81kg).

Ireland won two gold medals on Thursday. The country’s two-time European U22 champion Amy Broadhurst defeated the top favourite of the light welterweight (63kg), Algeria’s Imane Khelif. Both boxers had moved up to this category. The 23-year-old Algerian was taller and used her longer reach in the first round which she combined with speed and footwork. Khelif’s counter-punches arrived with perfect timing in the first round, but Broadhurst caught the Algerian with tough punches. The Irish boxer impressed during the last minute of the second round, and Khelif looked exhausted in the third round. Broadhurst took the title, becoming Ireland’s third women’s world champion, after Katie Taylor’s five titles and Kellie Harrington’s title in 2018. 

“I have been dreaming about this moment since my childhood. I worked almost 20 years to win a big Championships, and I can’t believe I’ve accomplished it. I had to be patient and I felt in the second round that my strategy worked well, and I knew that I could make it. I don’t remember what my coach told me in the second break but I gave it everything in the third round,” said Broadhurst.

Lisa O’Rourke followed her compatriot, meeting Mozambique’ first-ever finalist Alcinda Panguane. The Irish boxer kept full concentration in the first and second rounds to build up the advantage on the scorecards. Panguane could not adapt to the tempo of this light middleweight (70kg) final. O’Rourke had plenty of clear punches, and she earned Ireland’s second gold medal at the Championships.

“I won the European U22 Boxing Championships in Croatia this March but this victory is something unexpected for me. My plan is always to be on the top of the podium but I am over the moon after this success. I had to keep the distance in this final and I think it worked well today,” said O’Rourke after winning her final. 

Turkey, India, Chinese Taipei and Lithuania all won a title today. The coaches of the Irish national team Mr. Zaur Antia and Mr. John Conlan made fantastic work with the women’s team to achieve this historical success.

Turkey’s Ayse Cagirir is the surprise winner against Kazakhstan’s Alua BalkybekovaCagirir did not have any international ring experience in the previous two and half years and could not find the best distance against Balkybekova. The Kazakh impressed in the second round with continuous and unpredictable footwork. However, Cagirir produced a fantastic final round to turn their final around in Istanbul.

India’s Nikhat Zareen won the gold medal in the 52kg category with a win over Thailand’s Jitpong Jutamas in the fly-weight final. She is only the fifth Indian women’s boxer after Mary Kom, Sarita Devi, Jenny RL and Lekha KC to win gold at the Women’s World Championships. The 25-year-old Zareen is a former junior youth world champion. The judges scored the bout 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, 29-28 in the Indian’s favour.

“I am so proud that I could represent India at this Championships and made everybody happy after this gold medal. This is so emotional for me! I am so grateful to my coaches and my family who supported me all the time and only during the preparations for this event. The strategy was to keep the best fighting distance and I followed the instructions today. I don’t have time to rest as the Commonwealth Games are close and I want to win that event, too,” said Zareen.

Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yu-Ting won her second world title after her after the New Delhi 2018 edition. She defeated Italy’s Irma Testa in the featherweight (57kg). Testa moved ahead more in the second round and she had some excellent hooks, but Lin finished the period with a powerful right-handed jab. She was faster in most of the exchanges and her final round guaranteed her the second world title.

“I have never met Irma Testa in the past but I was looking forward this contest. She is wonderful, a great boxer and this was my most difficult contest in these Championships. I had six contests in the event and of course I am tired but so happy that I could win my second world title,” said Lin.

The gold medallists at the IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships on the first day of the finals:

48kg: Ayse Cagirir, Turkey

52kg: Nikhat Zareen, India

57kg: Lin Yu Ting, Chinese Taipei

63kg: Amy Broadhurst, Ireland

70kg: Lisa O’Rourke, Ireland

81kg: Gabriele Stonkute, Lithuania

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