Injury and Coronavirus prolongs Smith’s Olympic dream

Conor Breslin

27 November 2015; Michaela Walsh, right, Holy Family GG Boxing Club, trades punches with Ceire Smith, Cavan Boxing Club, during their 51kg bout. IABA National Elite Female Championship Finals. National Stadium, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Four years is a long time for any sports athlete to wait for a shot on the big stage at the Olympics but for former DCU student Céire Smith, she will have to wait a little longer due to the cancellation of the Tokyo games due to COVID-19.

However, this may have been a blessing in disguise for the Ballyhaise southpaw who pick up an injury by breaking her right hand at a training camp in Italy only two weeks before her Olympic qualifying campaign in London which was meant to commence on St Patricks Day.

Smith who graduated from DCU with a degree in sports science and health in 2018 performed poorly in the Olympic qualifiers for Rio 2016 after an horrific dental injury which resulted in a dental tool lodging near her hip only centimetres from her femoral artery. Smith who was 23 years old at the time was tipped by many as the next “Katie Taylor”. Now 27, the Cavan native told the College View that this would be her last chance but now will have to wait a little longer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When I broke my hand last month, I was sick to my stomach because I knew that this was my final chance to get to the Olympics. I put in so much work over the last number of years and I thought then it would never pay off and I would never get there,” Smith said.

Smith was replaced by East Belfast woman and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Carly McNaul, who came up short in her qualifiers against Great Britain’s Charley-Sian Davison. Now with the qualifiers and the Olympics put on hold, this will give Smith time to recover and train for when the competition will start up again but admits putting her life aside for another year will be mentally challenging.

“All I’ve done over the last 10 years is put boxing first and my life second. I had to keep my strength right, my weight right and my diet right. I prepared to stop after the Summer of 2020 but now I will wait until the Coronavirus blows over. Going another year is going to be really mentally challenging, not to mention I’m one of the oldest competing for Ireland.”

The former DCU boxer and All-Ireland winner is also set to start a master’s degree program in Cork next season but now will be debating to put it off for another year to focus on boxing.

“I suppose for me this whole situation was a bit of a blessing in disguise for me considering I broke my hand. I think the procedures taken are 100% correct. It’s just going to be tough to go for another year and perhaps defer my college course again. I have overcome obstacles before and I hope ill recover from injury and overcome this one,” said Smith.

Conor Breslin

Image Credit: David Maher