DCU alumni Céire Smith has been selected for the Ireland team in the AIBA World Women’s Elite Championships.
The flyweight flew out to New Delhi on the 11th with the prelims beginning on the 15th.
Smith, who has just graduated from DCU, has been boxing since the age of 15. She began in Cavan boxing club training under Brian McKeown, who she remains with to this day. She competed in her first world championship in 2010 at the age of 17.
She said “This is when I began training on the high performance unit alongside the men and Katie. The head coach at the time was Billy Walsh. I continued to train full-time and in 2012 aged 19 I finished top 12 in the world.”
Smith missed out on London in 2012 but decided that she would pursue a college education. She started studying Sport Science and Health in DCU while continuing to train full time.
In 2014 Smith hit a bump in the road, “Unfortunately, I missed out on the world championships in Jeju, Korea due to health issues. This was a major blow as I was hoping to progress higher from the worlds in 2012.”
Within a year, Smith was back to full health again, “I returned to major international competition in 2015. Along the way I beat the current world champion from USA Marlena Esparza in the Felix Stamm multinationals in Poland. I then finished top 8 in the European games in Baku, Azerbaijan. I was beaten here in a split decision to Russia who was the current European champion.”
“I deferred 2016 from DCU in order to prepare for the qualifiers however, I was defeated in the European qualifier by Ukraine on a split decision who was in Rio and I also lost in the world qualifier to Columbia on a split decision who was Pan Am silver medalist and also qualified for Rio.”
The unfortunate run took a bit of a toll on Smith and she decided that it was time for a break.
“I had missed out on so many split decisions that I just needed a break to clear my head,” Smith told The College View.
Following on from there, she completed her placement in Australia thinking her boxing days were over but the draw towards the club was too strong and the passion reemerged. Smith became the captain of the squad at this point and realised that she had unfinished business.
“I was confident having beat GB 51 kg champ in London and so I decided to enter the Ulster championships around three weeks later. Here I defeated the current Irish champion Carly Mc Naul.”
With the knowledge that she couldn’t train as hard as she would like, with final year study taking up a lot of her time, she had to decide if entering nationals would be a good idea. While it was a tough decision she decided to consult with her coach before committing.
She decided to compete in this and then take a step back so she could prioritise her studies for a while. Smith went on to win the final 5-0 against Niamh Early and continued with her final year in DCU.
Once her final exams were complete she thought it was best to return to boxing while being able to fully commit.
“When I finished in June I rejoined the team in the national institute in Abbottstown under Bernard Dunne. I competed in Romania a number of weeks back and lost to the eventual gold medalist.”
“It was a tough contest but great to be back in with top international opposition and shake off the ring rust. It’s also getting used to 3×3 minute rounds unlike when I left in 2016 it was 4×2 minute rounds. It’s been great being back and I’m looking forward to the upcoming World Championships in India.”
DCU Boxing has also been a great experience for Smith with her saying, “It’s class…it has progressed so much since I started in first year. I’ve enjoyed being on the committee and helping coach the guys.”
“Derek and Terry have put so much work into the club and that was extremely evident when I returned for final year from Australia . The level of talent is just continuously growing and it’s down to the hard work of the coaches.”
Smith represented DCU in the nationals this year and said she was delighted to deliver the first elite senior title to DCU Boxing Club.
“I feel the club contributed massively to my own return to the ring as DCU boxing club made me realise how much I both enjoyed and missed the sport. The atmosphere in the club is always so welcoming and it’s great seeing people join for not only competing but for fitness or the social aspect.”
“When you walk into DCU boxing club and see everyone train together it’s almost impossible to not want to be apart of it”
Preparation has been key for Smith, “We have had a lot of preparation for this World’s (World Championship). We have had a training camp in Sheffield with Team GB.”
“The past number of months have been very busy and the team had worked incredibly hard. This final week is about fine tuning and focus now. All of the hard work is done and it’s a matter of performance now.”
Smith is grateful for the sports development team in DCU saying they were extremely helpful in her final year.
“They were very supportive in helping me return to my sport and get back to where I am now.”
“I will also miss DCU boxing club. I’ve had many years of enjoyment there.”
Image Credit: thefightingirish.ie