Category: Archive

Irish mettle

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Not for the first time since Ireland began competing as itself in the modern Olympic Games, it’s the boxers that have managed to show their mettle – and lay their hands on some metal, in this case at least three bronze medals.
Ken Egan, Paddy Barnes and Darren Sutherland are the agents of this Irish success, coming as it does following a week of general disappointment in the Irish team camp.
The three Irish boxers fight again on Friday and all now stand a chance of turning bronze into silver, and perhaps even gold.
Ireland did not make the medals table in Athens four years ago. The last Irish medalist was runner Sonia O’Sullivan who won silver in Sydney in 2000.
Irish track athletes have not shone in Beijing. Sprinter Paul Hession did win his 200 meters second round heat but the Galway runner failed to qualify out of the semi-final of the event Tuesday after finishing fifth.
Ireland is far from being an Olympic power so any medal win is greeted with jubilation. And it has been the boxers down the years who have given Irish fans the most frequent reason to cheer.
The Irish medal total since 1928, the first medal winning Olympic year, now stands at 23, this including the latest three. Twelve of this total has been attained by boxers.
The last boxing success was a double, in Barcelona in 1992 when Michael Carruth captured gold and Wayne McCullough won a silver.
Boxing is one of a number of sports in Ireland not divided by the border. Ulster boxers can fight for Northern Ireland, try for the British team or, as many do, take their chances on an Irish vest.
Wayne McCullough, for example, came from a Protestant background in Belfast. He fought for Northern Ireland in the 1990 Commonwealth Games, winning a gold medal, before becoming an Irish Olympic team member in ’92.
Freshly minted medalist Paddy Barnes is also from Belfast, while Ken Egan and Darren Sutherland are from Dublin.

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