Northern Ireland’s Kurt Walker captures bantamweight gold medal

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Northern Ireland boxer Kurt Walker has taken the bantamweight gold medal at the European Games in Belarus.

The Lisburn fighter will be Ireland’s flagbearer for Sunday’s closing ceremony after beating Mykola Butsenko of Ukraine by a unanimous decision.

The 24-year-old won all three rounds on three of the five scorecards to clinch Ireland’s first gold medal in Minsk.

Team-mate Kellie Harrington was forced to withdraw from her lightweight final with a hand injury.

The reigning world champion suffered the injury during her semi-final win against Sweden’s Agnes Alexiusson and had to surrender her chance of adding to her gold medal collection.

“I’m disappointed to not be competing but I understand that there’s a bigger picture to be taken into account,” said Harrington.

“It would be too much of a risk to go in there and have another setback. I totally respect the advice of the medical staff and the decision of the Performance Director [Bernard Dunne].”

The Irish team’s Performance Director Bernard Dunne added: “It is unfortunate that hand injuries are part and parcel of boxing, but we need to manage it the right way to ensure a quick return to action.

“Kellie has Europeans and Worlds before the year is out and upcoming Olympic qualification events that we are looking forward to. In making this decision we had to take in the big picture to ensure that we don’t further injure the hand.”

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