Mira Potkonen has achieved an Olympic mark that stands little chance of ever being surpassed.
The two-time Olympian from Finland became the oldest boxer in history to medal, as she is guaranteed at least Bronze following a split decision win over Esra Yildiz (Turkey). Scores were 29-27 on all five scorecards, two for the exiting Yildiz and three for Potkonen, who medals at age 40 years, 8 months and 17 days following the women's lightweight quarterfinal Tuesday at Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo.
Potkonen had to sweat out a point deduction in round three which otherwise threatened a seemingly insurmountable lead through two rounds. Potkonen was consistent with her jab, while Yildiz was at her most effective at close range.
Leaving no doubt, Potkonen won the third and final round on three of the five cards to seal the victory. With her win, she tears down a record dating back to 1908, when Great Britain's Richard Gunn medaled at age 37 years, 8 months and 14 days old.
Potkonen was previously best known for upsetting Katie Taylor in the 2016 Rio Olympics en route to a Bronze. The two-time medalist needs to win two more fights to truly take down Gunn's mark as the oldest to win Gold. A tough road is ahead given the rest of the field.
Awaiting Potkonen in the semifinal round is Beatriz Ferreira (Brazil), who powered her way into the women's lightweight semifinals following a three-round shutout of Raykhona Kodirova (Uzbekistan). Scores were 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26 in favor of Ferreira, who has assured Brazil of at least three medals in Tokyo.
Kodirova attempted to keep Ferreira at the end of her jab but was outmuscled for much of the night. The compact Ferreira was able to work her way inside, connecting with overhand rights and left hooks whether taking the lead or in counterpunching mode.
Ferreira is just the second Brazilian female boxer ever to medal and the first since Adriana Araujo did so in 2012.
Two more quarterfinal bouts will determine the other side of the bracket. Finland's ageless Mira Potkonen—40, to be exact and a returning Olympian—faces Esra Yildiz (Turkey), while Beatriz Ferreira (Brazil) meets with the winners to medal.
Kellie Anne Harrington couldn't help but embrace the moment, bobbing her head to a Black Eyed Peas song while awaiting the official decision for her quarterfinal round bout.
"I got a feeling," Harrington playfully quipped to her coaches, casually singing the lyrics before being summoned to the center of the ring.
Her instinct was accurate, as Harrington became the first Irish female boxer since Katie Taylor in 2012 to medal. It came courtesy of a decision win over Imane Khelif (Algeria) in the quarterfinal round of the women's lightweight bracket Tuesday at Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo.
Harrington is now assured of at least Bronze, joining Taylor as the only two Irish female boxers ever to medal—both at lightweight. She has the chance to improve on that in Thursday's semifinal versus Sudaporn Seesondee (Thailand) who scored a stunning upset win over Caroline Dubois (Great Britain) in their quarterfinal bout.
The two wins were polar opposite, with the number-one seed Harrington winning every round on all five scorecards save for round one in the eyes of judge Carl Ruhen (Australia). It came through clean boxing and gradually building pressure, with Khelif game but not quite able to disrupt Harrington's rhythm.
A joyful Harrington exited the ring chanting, "Hakuna Matata—it means no worries for the rest of your day."
Dubois would've loved to have applied the same theory, though was too far in disbelief over the verdict in her quarterfinal loss to Seesondee. The all-action affair deserved a crowd, with neither boxer backing down. Dubois—who bested Kosovo's Donjeta Sadiku and USA's Rashida Ellis in Tokyo—had to play catchup after losing on three of the five cards in the opening round, winning by the same split in round two.
Both boxers had their moments in the final three minutes, yet another frame that was split 3-2—four of the five judges scoring as they did for round two. Judge Bachir Abbar (Morocco) broke ranks, ruling round three for Seesondee after awarding round two in favor of Dubois. His card provided the margin of victory for Seesondee, who advances Thailand's record to 7-3 in Tokyo and 5-2 among the Thai women.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox