BY winning the 52kg National Senior Elite title at the first time of asking, 18-year-old Newtownstewart boxer, Jude Gallagher earned his place in the Irish Elite training panel.
With that comes intense twice daily sessions, four days per week in Abbotstown where he’s hoping to impress sufficiently to earn a place at one of two Olympic qualifying tournaments next year.
The talented Two Castles Boxing Club star, who has won no fewer than 10 Irish titles as well as bronze medals at both the European and World Youth Championships, admits the new regime is tough, but thoroughly rewarding.
“It’s tough training, but it’s good being around all the Elite champions, it’s a good set-up at Abbotstown and being with all the top boys,” he said,
“It’s more intense than it was at youth level, training twice a day, four days a week and it’s more advance. It’s been a real eye-opener, some journey so far!
“The [Olympic] Qualifiers are in March, at the Europeans in London, where you have to finish in the top six or eight in your weight to qualify for Tokyo.
“Then there’s a World Championship event after that, which you can also qualify through, so fingers crossed I get into the qualifying team!”
In November, Jude proved he’s more than capable of achieving success at adult level, having made his senior debut at the Senior Elite’s at the quarter-final stage when he eased past reigning Irish Intermediate champion, Monkstown’s Sean Kavanagh, 5-0 on the judges scorecards.
He followed that up with a similar triumph over reigning champion, Monivea’s Adam Hession to set up a final clash with last year’s 49kg title holder, Regan Buckley.
Again, the Sacred Heart College pupil upped his game in a cracking decider, described as having matched the classic 2009 final between Rio Olympian David Oliver Joyce and two-weight World pro champion Carl Frampton in terms of drama and action.
FULL STORY IN FRIDAY’S STRABANE CHRONICLE..