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Women in Sport: Irish Elite Boxer Aoife O Rourke


By Aoife O'Rourke
11th Sep 2022

Aoife O Rourke

Women in Sport: Irish Elite Boxer Aoife O Rourke

In this instalment of our Women in Sport series, we hear from Irish Elite Boxer Aoife O Rourke on her early sporting memories, representing Ireland at the Olympics, and what confidence means to her.

A Castlerea woman with six Irish senior titles under her belt, European champion and Irish Elite Boxer Aoife O Rourke took to her sport like a duck to water.

The second Irish woman to win an Elite Gold European medal after Katie Taylor, Aoife represented Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and has her eyes on a medal come 2024.

Aoife O'Rourke

Name: Aoife O Rourke

Profession: Boxer

Earliest sporting memory?

My earliest sporting memory in boxing was weighing in for my first county championships. I didn’t even realise I had to stand on a scales to “make weight”.

How did you become involved in your sport?

I joined Castlerea Boxing Club for fitness for Gaelic football, which I was playing at the time. I had heard great things about the training and said I would give it a try to improve my fitness levels.

What message would you like to share with young women and girls interested in pursuing a career as an athlete?

When you are young, that is the time to try out a range of sports. Try everything until you figure out which one it is you love and want to pursue to the highest level in. Anything is possible if you work for it and you are never too old to take up a new sport.

Proudest moment so far?

My proudest moment in my career as a boxer so far is qualifying and representing Ireland at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The female athlete I admire most is…

My sister, Lisa O Rourke, because she has been with me through all of my boxing career. We train together and push each other. She went into her first elite competition this year in May at the World Championships in Turkey and won a Gold medal. She’s only 20 years old and is only getting started into her elite boxing career. She trains so hard and it was amazing to watch her hand being raised at the world championships. She also came with me to Tokyo for a training camp before the Olympics as my sparring partner. It is incredible to have her by my side and watch her grow as an athlete.

Favourite sporting memory…

When I won the European Championships in 2019. I came home to a hero’s welcoming in my local town Castlerea, where hundreds of people came out to support me. The town went to so much work putting together a homecoming for me. Having won the title, I was told I was only the second Irish woman to win a Elite Gold European medal after Katie Taylor. It was incredible to even have my name mentioned in the same sentence as Katie Taylor. This was a great achievement for me.

Aoife O'Rourke

Do you think there is still a stigma around women in sport?

Yes, especially in my sport, boxing, as I think there still is a generation which don’t approve of women boxing. I do think women’s sport overall has grown hugely over the last number of years. Ireland has some great role models across all sports, performing and excelling at the highest level. I am sure it will continue to grow in the future.

What is the biggest barrier to driving visibility in women’s sports?

In my opinion, I think women’s sport doesn’t get the same amount of TV coverage as men do. This is something that could be improved in the future.

The biggest stigma/pre-conception that exists in women’s sport is…

I think social life has a massive impact on girls continuing sport. They begin to lose interest and stop all sporting activities, which stop them from progressing to the next level.

If I wasn’t an athlete I would be…

A vet. It has always been my lifelong dream to follow in my grandfathers footsteps to do veterinary medicine and care for animals. This is something I would have tried to pursue after school if I didn’t have sport. For me, sport took over and my academic studies took a back step, but I believe everything happens for a reason.

My favourite pre-fight meal is…

Porridge. I love porridge and have it every morning, as well as 2-3 hours before my fight. I like mine with a square of dark chocolate in it

My pre-fight playlist includes…

Anything, I am not fussy when it comes to this. I will stick my earphones in on the way to the fight. It’s more so to take my mind off the fight and put me in good humour.

Aoife O'Rourke

My daily routine is…

My daily routine when at home and when I’m in training with the high performance team in Dublin differ. In Dublin, for example, we have a weigh in and breakfast at 8am, then our first session is at 10am, followed by lunch at 12pm and then a break before second session at 3:30pm. Then dinner around 5:30pm, and we go back to the hotel and relax for the evening.

My biggest sporting goal is…

To qualify for another Olympic Games and take home a medal. To have fun and enjoy the journey.

Sports brands I love (Irish or otherwise)…

I like to wear Lulu Lemon and Nike training gear. They are good quality and comfortable.

Biggest splurge to celebrate a win…

Going out for food, taking time off intense training, and just winding down with the family.

How do you mind your mental health?

Exercise for me is one of the best tools for clearing the head. Getting out in fresh air and surrounding yourself with like minded people.

My three desert island beauty products are…

Moisturiser, a nail file and tweezers.

I need 7-9 hours of sleep a night because…

Sleep is so important and it is the best form of recovery. Getting good quality sleep allows my body to recover from training and keep training at a high intensity.

Confidence to me is…

Confidence can mean so much in so many different ways! In sport, it’s having the ability to give your best effort at any given time. Knowing that if you need to push harder, you can. Confidence is believing in your ability and the training effort you have put in. Confidence is also being happy and comfortable in yourself.

How do you get over a bad performance?

I am human and having a bad performance is normal. If you have a bad performance, park it – there is nothing you can do about it, it’s over. Take something from it and learn from it. Don’t dwell on it, it’s in the past.

Lastly, why is sport such an integral part of community, on a club, local, national and personal level?

Sport is a great way of making friends and brining people together.