Japan’s IRIE Sena beat Great Britain’s Karris Artingstall to the punch, but only just, after their boxing women’s featherweight semifinal was called on a split decision at Tokyo 2020.
Both boxers were squarely matched in the three rounds at the Kokugikan Arena with both battling to make it to the gold medal final with the world champion from the Philippines, Nesthy Petecio, 29, on 3 August. And neither were prepared to give an inch with both landing punches to the end. It was a close call with the judges declaring 20-year-old Irie, in the blue corner, the winner, by 3-2.
Speaking after the bout, Irie said: “The opponent was very strong so even though I was guarding, I was being pushed back so I thought that I had lost, but I am really glad to have won. It was a very close match but if I had lost in the third round I probably would’ve regretted it for the rest of my life so I made myself stronger in the last match, mentally.”
On going to the final, she admitted: “I honestly did not think I would be going to final so I’m really happy to have come this far, and now that I have, I want to get the gold.” On her way to the semifinal she had also beaten Romania’s Maria Claudia Nechita in the quarterfinals and Tunisia’s Khouloud Hlimi Ep Moulahi in the preliminaries.
Artingstall, in the red corner, will go home with a bronze medal from her debut Olympics. In the lead up to the semifinal she had overpowered Brazil’s Jucielen Romeu in the preliminaries and Australia’s Skye Nicolson in the quarterfinal. On her fight with Irie, she said: “I tried my best, I managed to pick it up in the second so we were level going into the last round... I’m not going to moan about the decision, it was very, very close. If it went my way, happy days, it went her way.
"My goal out here was to get myself on that podium," added the 26-year-old. "I am here to take that top spot and unfortunately today wasn’t my day. But come Paris 2024, I’ll be taking that top spot.”
The semifinal on 31 July was the second in the women's featherweight division. Italy's Irma Testa picked up the second bronze after she was defeated by Petecio 4-1.