Another positive day so far for Irish boxers at the European Games in Minsk, with assured victories for Kurt Walker, Grainne Walsh and Michaela Walsh, but Dean Gardiner was eliminated by one of the favourites for the super-heavyweight crown.

Walker was a comfortable winner in his men’s bantamweight opener in Belarus, scoring a 4-1 victory on the judges’ scorecards over Armenia’s Zhirayr Sargsyan.

Walker’s last-16 triumph at the Uruchie Sports Palace qualifies him for a quarter-final outing on Wednesday against Samuel Kistohurry of France, who scored a unanimous points win over Raffaele di Serio of Italy.

However, Gardiner fell on a 4-1 scoreline to touch-punching Mikheil Bakhtidze of Georgia. He was considered by four of the five judges to have taken the opening round, but rounds 2 and 3 swung Bakhtidze’s way.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Michaela Walsh is determined to keep building towards the Tokyo Olympics. (Martin Rickett/PA)</figcaption>
Michaela Walsh is determined to keep building towards the Tokyo Olympics. (Martin Rickett/PA)

There was better news on the opening day of women’s boxing, as Michaela Walsh turned over Romania’s Lenuta-Lacramioara Perijoc at featherweight on a 4-1 judges’ scoreline.

She awaits Germany’s reigning world champion Ornella Wahner in Wednesday’s quarter-finals.

She told Press Association Sport: “Every time I go away to a competition I always think of gold, and I really believe that this is my time.

“I’ve moved up in weight to chase my Olympic dream, and every morning when I wake up, Tokyo is what I visualise.

“This tournament in Minsk feels like a mini-Olympics for me. It’s all a stepping stone towards the main goal which is Tokyo.”

Welterweight Grainne Walsh saw off Britain’s Rosie Eccles on a similar result.

She now fights Finnish European Champion Elina Gustafsson in the quarters.

Ireland’s Nhat Nguyen has got his round-robin men’s singles badminton campaign off to a successful start at the Falcon Club.

Nguyen’s opening match resulted in a 21-11 21-13 victory over Bulgarian Daniel Nikolov

The U17 European Championship winner next faces Spain’s Pablo Abian tomorrow, with a final round group match against Luka Wraber of Austria on Wednesday.


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