Aidan Walsh prefers a dog walk to a ring walk at the Commonwealth Games.
Belfast’s Olympic boxing bronze medallist is the zen master of the light middleweight draw with nothing to prove and a focus on, as they say these days, ‘enjoying the process.’
It is no cliche coming from Walsh who has delivered his best in plenty of pressure cookers and for whom upgrading Commonwealth silver to gold is a side issue.
They say Olympic medals change your life, but not for this man.
He said: “The public put expectations on you, but I’ve no expectations on myself.
“Away from an Olympic medallist I’m a normal person, I love kayaking, I love going to McDonalds, I love Chinese, going to my caravan and doing normal things.
“I think my life stayed the same. I spent less money than I did before I won an Olympic bronze medal, I go out less than I did before!
“Walking the dog for me now is the biggest achievement I can ever have.”
This summer, Team Northern Ireland, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will compromise of over 100 athletes, all vying for medal success.
Walsh put on a southpaw boxing masterclass to beat Lesotho’s Arena Pakela by unanimous decision.
A freak of the draw will pit him against England’s newly crowned European champion Harris Akbar at the quarter-final stage, a match-up that will turn the NEC into a cauldron.
Walsh was beat by an Englishman, Pat McCormack, at Gold Coast 2018 but when questions turn to revenge and retribution, he demurs.
Walsh said: “I just want to enjoy it to be honest, regardless of winning and losing. All the time we focus on gold medals, but you neglect the enjoyment of it.
“Good performances lead to good things. The team’s great and it’s a great honour to be captain of the team.”
Akbar is in an altogether different headspace, at a stage of his life and career where winning seems like everything.
“This is what I’d have hoped to be the final,” said the Bradford native.
“It just goes to show how hard the Commonwealth is. It’s one of the toughest divisions and it says everything when you’re up there competing.
“It’s going to be a clash of styles for sure, but we’ll see who the better man on the day is.
“It’s not going to be about styles, it’s about who is the better man. Hopefully the home crowd will be different, the English are going to bring it.”
“It's self-belief more than anything. The self-belief I have, I can’t even put it into words. If I put in my best performance, no-one will beat me.”
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