Thursday, July 22, 2021

Luck was not on Aoife O’Rourke’s side when the draw took place for the Olympic boxing competitions this afternoon in Tokyo. The Castlerea boxer will fight at 10.18 a.m. next Wednesday morning against Li Qian of China, who was a bronze medalist in the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 and was also crowned World Champion in New Delhi in 2018.

A 31-year-old fighter from inner Mongolia, Li Qian is just under six feet tall and has exceptional reach and range, so O’Rourke will have to find a way to get close and penetrate those outer defences in order to avoid being picked off by point-scoring shots from range. She is currently marked as the second favourite for the gold medal, behind Lauren Price of Great Britain, while O’Rourke is a relative outsider with most betting firms in what is her first Olympic competition.

Should O’Rourke register a surprise win over Li, her quarter final bout with a medal at stake would most likely be against Pooja Rani of India, who was drawn against complete outsider Ichraik Chaib of Algeria in the first round. Rani has won two Asian Championships and is a much more compact, powerful fighter, having formerly competed in the light-heavyweight division.

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