Lisburn boxer Kurt Walker has been selected to represent Team Ireland at the first ever European Games next month.
Kurt, who won the Irish Senior Title in the Bantamweight division in January, was delighted to receive the call up to the prestigious games.
The local boxer, who trains at Canal Boxing Academy, will be part of a 13 strong team of boxers, and will compete in the games in Baku, Azerbaijan, throughout June.
The Baku 2015 European Games will be the inaugural European Games, an international multi-sport event for athletes representing the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of Europe.
The Games will be held in Baku from June 12 to 28, and will feature more than 6,000 athletes from 50 NOCs competing in 20 sports.
“These are the first ever European Games,” Walker said. “They’ve built a stadium especially for them and an athletes’ village.
“I feel good right now,” he added. “I’ve been training hard for it. On Monday’s I’m in Belfast and Lisburn and I’m in Dublin from Tuesday to Friday.”
London Olympic Gold Medallist Katie Taylor is amongst Walker’s Team Ireland teammates.
“It’s brilliant to have been selected,” Walker said. “These are big games, the first ever.
“I’m feeling good at the moment, I’ve been training hard and there will be a lot of hard work for another seven weeks.
“I’ve added in new elements to my training, adding weights in as well, so I’m flat out.”
Walker will face tough opposition when he arrives in Baku, but he is relishing the challenge.
“There’s a world champion in my weight, who is from Azerbaijan, so he’ll have home advantage, but I’m feeling good.
“I’m feeling confident and I feel stronger; I’m training harder than I ever have before.
“I can’t wait to get out there,” Walker added. “There’s a new stadium, a new village, this will be a new experience for me.”
Walker still harbours hopes of reaching the Olympics in Rio in 2016, but with Michael Conlan already selected in his weight division, he knows the chances are slim.
However, the local fighter remains focused and has dreams of going to the next Commonwealth Games in his sights.
His current focus is centred on the European Games, however.
“We’re going over ten days before the games to a training camp with boxers from different countries, so it will be a lot of hard work.
“At the moment training feels good because everyone is training for something, it’s good to have a goal to reach for.”
Walker’s friends and family, as well as fellow members of Canal Boxing Academy, will be able to watch his progress live from the games on Television.
With all the preparation and travel involved as he goes to and from Dublin each week, Walker is seeking sponsorship from any local businesses. If you would like to help the young Lisburn boxer, contact Kurt on 07730374197.