Karriss Artingstall sets her sights on Paris after winning bronze medal in Tokyo

Karriss Artingstall won bronze for Great Britain (Frank Franklin II/AP) (AP)
13:33pm, Sat 31 Jul 2021
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Karriss Artingstall rued her sluggish start in a razor-thin split decision defeat to Japan’s Sena Irie but the Macclesfield featherweight will use her Olympic bronze as motivation to go all the way at Paris 2024.

Artingstall, who had guaranteed herself a medal by edging out Australia’s Skye Nicolson last time out, lost the first round of this absorbing semi-final contest in the women’s 57kg category on every scorecard.

Irie was the busier fighter early on but Artingstall upped the tempo thereafter and the pair went into the final three minutes with four of the five judges scoring the bout one round apiece at the Kokugikan Arena.

Both fighters landed eye-catching blows and while there was little to split them, Artingstall’s work found favour with three of the officials. But it was Irie who advanced to the gold medal match when the scores were totted up.

Three of the judges gave Irie the nod at 29-28, with the other two swaying towards Artingstall by the same scoreline. After her involvement in Japan was ended, the Briton reflected with some regret at how she started on Saturday.

“Playing catch up is an absolute nightmare,” she said. “If you ask any boxer in the world dropping that first round and having to catch up in the second and the third is absolutely horrible.

“I tried my best, I managed to pick it back up in the second and (in the third) I felt I was giving her three in return for one of hers. But I’m not going to moan about the decision, it was very, very close.”

Artingstall, a gunner in the British Army who has also won bronze at world and European level, was the last of the Team GB boxers to qualify for Tokyo 2020, rebounding after a loss to Stanimira Petrova by beating Stephanie Thour.

She has excelled in the Japanese capital, cruising past Botswana’s Keamogetse Kenosi and third seed Jucielen Romeu of Brazil, before a much closer contest in a bout that could have gone either way against Nicolson.

“My goal out here was to get myself on that podium and just correct a few wrongs I’d done wrong in (the qualifiers in) Paris, just to show the people around this world at 57kg that I’m not to be messed with,” Artingstall said.

“I know I can beat all the girls at my weight on my day. They’re going to be very, very close fights, don’t get me wrong, but I know on a good day of mine I can edge them, edge every single round and I can win the fights.

“Unfortunately today wasn’t my day but I’ve been on GB for two and a half years and I’ve left with an Olympic medal. I’m a world medallist, I’m a European medallist, come Paris in 2024 I’ll be taking that top spot.

“I want to go to the Olympics when it’s not in the presence of a pandemic. I want to experience it at its best.”

British team-mate Lauren Price guaranteed herself a women’s middleweight medal with a unanimous decision victory over Panama’s Atheyna Bylon, who lost 30-26 on four of the judges’ scorecards and 29-27 on the other.

The Welsh fighter, who takes on Holland’s Nouchka Fontijn in her semi-final, said: “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. It was my dream since I was eight years of age just to be an Olympian, let alone win a medal.

“I can’t put it into words what it means to me. It is an amazing feeling to have medalled, but I always want more, no matter what tournament it is in. I am just loving the journey and trying to let it sink in.”

Galal Yafai knows improvements must be made before his men’s quarter-final against Cuba’s Yosvany Veitia after the Birmingham flyweight edged out the elusive Patrick Chinyemba by close split decision, winning on three scorecards.

Yafai landed some eye-catching blows, with his Zambian opponent taking a standing eight count in the second round, but he was also frustrated for large spells. He said: “If I box like that again I don’t deserve a medal, do I?”

Luke McCormack bowed out in the last-16 of the men’s lightweight competition after a unanimous decision defeat to Cuba’s Andy Cruz, a two-time world champion whose movement and ramrod jab confounded his Sunderland rival.

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