Sibling rivalry pushing Michaela and Aidan Walsh to new heights

·3-min read
Walsh (right) is hoping to go one better than the silver medal she won in Gold Coast (REUTERS)

By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat

Michaela and Aidan Walsh have both fought their way to Commonwealth Games thanks to what she calls ‘Warrior DNA’. For Belfast boxer Michaela, the success of her younger sibling means just as much as her own.

Since childhood, the pair have spurred each other on, and that remains the case today, with each heavily invested in the other’s ambitions of a gold medal in Birmingham.

“What’s special for me is being able to go with my brother,” Michaela explained.

“That almost means more than the medal itself.

“Being able to train with each other and be on the same team, we drive each other on and for both of us to come away with a silver medal [in Gold Coast] is something to look back on and be proud of.

“It would be amazing to go one better this time and get a gold which would be a dream come true. It’s something we both visualise a lot.”

As close as the pair are now, Michaela suggests that Aidan may have thrown the towel in if it wasn’t for his sister.

“We’ve always been best friends because Aidan started boxing first and I just followed suit,” she said.

“I just wanted to do it because he was doing it but then I had a little bit more success at an early age and I think that drove him on.

“I kept him on track and told him he had to be training if he wanted to win.

“So that helped keep him in boxing, him seeing how good I was doing, he sort of wanted it for himself."

The persistence paid off, and the pair made history last year when they became the first brother and sister to box at the same Olympic Games.

With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Walsh hopes sharing her story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.

Michaela speaks of an ever-growing winning culture within boxing after years of national success and she hopes that can offer confidence to the latest cohort representing Team Northern Ireland.

“It’s in our DNA,” she said. “It’s something everyone has. It’s hard to explain. It’s like a Warrior DNA.

“Boxing is just such a big sport, and it means a lot to a lot of people.

“Everyone on the team has that sort of mindset that they want the best and that’s why we’re so successful.

“It feels amazing to be a part of, the talent we have is phenomenal.”

On a personal level, Michaela is determined to make it third-time lucky this year, following silver medals as a flyweight in 2014 and then at the featherweight division in 2018.

This summer, Team Northern Ireland, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will compromise over 100 athletes, and having secured her place on the squad, Walsh is looking for medal success.

She recalled: “That feeling, of being so close, I’ve had it before, and I’ve said to myself I never want to have it again.

“When you’re so close it drives you to say I want to be coming out on top of this and on top of the podium.

“That gives you that little push when you’re in the last round and have nothing left.”

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