A 17-year-old female boxer from St Brigid's Boxing Club in Edenderry has overcome serious injury to book her place on the flight to Bulgaria next month as part of the Irish team for the European Youth Boxing Championships.
Lauren Kelly has been through the proverbial sporting ringer. She is already a European medallist at junior level for Ireland, and an accomplished champion in Irish circles, but during a competition in Turkey last August, she suffered a worrying elbow injury.
The young fighter returned to Ireland where the St. Brigid's Club physio suspected the worst, and recommended an MRI scan to survey the extent of the damage. The MRI revealed that the up-and-coming Irish star had torn two of the main ligaments in her left elbow, with the third also in a bad state.
In a devastating blow, Lauren's boxing days appeared to be over while the promising athlete was still just a teenager. A decision was taken by a consultant specialist to perform a gruelling three-hour surgery to address the injury.
During the risky operation, surgeons drilled three holes in the elbow and reconnected the joint with synthetic ligaments. "There was no guarantee it would be a success, rehabilitation was slow, and there was a lot of tears," St. Brigid's coach Liam Brereton told the Offaly Express.
He says there was some laughs as well during Lauren's rehabilitation and around January of this year, the 17-year-old was allowed to shadow box as she extraordinarily eased her way back into action.
After months of rehab, training and soul-searching, Lauren Kelly battled on and fought at the Irish National Youth competition where she was successful in recapturing some of her sparkling form. Lauren's elbow was sorely tested but she managed to win her sixth Irish National title.
Her reward was a place on the Irish Youth team for this summer's European Youth Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria taking place from July 2-10.
Her coach, Liam Bereton said: "Europeans will be a big test for Lauren as she tries to add a youth medal to her junior one. She is hoping a big show in the Europeans will seal her place on the Irish team for the World Championships in India in November this year."
The World Championships are a Qualifier for the 2018 Youth Olympics in Argentina. The Edenderry boxer fights at 75kg which is an Olympic weight, and Liam Brereton says, "there are interesting times ahead," as Lauren continues the fight to go to the very top of world boxing.
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