27 April 2016 – Dublin, Ireland: With 100 days to go today until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has named double Olympic bronze medallist in boxing Paddy Barnes as its flag bearer to lead Team Ireland’s delegation into the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony on 5 August.
Barnes, 29, will expect to be leading the largest Irish team at an Olympic Games to date, with 66 Irish athletes having qualified for Rio 2016 so far. To mark the 100 days to go milestone, the OCI hosted a Team Ireland media day at the Conrad Hotel in Dublin.
OCI President and International Olympic Committee Executive Board Member Patrick Hickey was joined by Kevin Kilty, Team Ireland’s Rio 2016 Chef de Mission, and John Treacy, CEO, Sport Ireland.
17 Rio-bound Irish athletes were also present, including Ellis O’Reilly and Kieran Behan (Gymnastics) Joe Ward, Brendan Irvine, David Joyce (Boxing) Mitch Darling (Hockey) Annalise Murphy (Sailing) Ollie Dingley (Diving) Lucy Mulhall and Tom Daly (Rugby 7’s) Judy Reynolds (Dressage) Aoife Clark, Cathal Daniels, Joseph Murphy, and Clare Abbott (Eventing), Arthur Lanigan O’Keefe (Modern Pentathlon) and Fionualla McCormack (Athletics).
OCI President Patrick Hickey said:
“I am delighted to announce that our hugely talented boxer Paddy Barnes has been selected as Team Ireland’s flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony. Paddy already has two Olympic medals to his name, and he’s a reigning Commonwealth Games champion. So we have high hopes of him bringing home another medal. More importantly, his commitment to the cause of Irish boxing and Irish sport makes him a role model for aspiring young athletes in Ireland and the natural choice as Ireland’s flag bearer.
“Rio 2016 will be another landmark Olympic Games for Team Ireland. The success of Irish athletes at London 2012 has led to sustained growth in participation levels in Olympic sports over the past four years. This has put Irish sport in a very strong position heading into Rio.”
Paddy Barnes, Team Ireland’s flag bearer at the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony, said:
“I’m delighted to have been asked to carry the Irish flag into the Olympic Stadium at the Opening Ceremony. It’s an amazing feeling to represent Ireland at an Olympic Games and I’ve been lucky enough to experience it twice before already. Going to my third Olympic Games as the flag bearer for Team Ireland now is just an incredible honour. I will be going for gold in Rio in the ring but I will also have the responsibility of helping to build a really positive environment for all Irish athletes. I could not be more excited about the next 100 days.”
Rio 2016 Chef de Mission Kevin Kilty said:
“With 100 days to go to Rio 2016, the OCI is busy supporting our athletes as they enter the final stage of their preparations. Rio 2016 is the perfect opportunity to feed the constant enthusiasm for sport in Ireland. In Rio, our athletes will be performing against the best in the world and they have the chance to demonstrate their incredible talents. We are continuing to do everything we can to make sure Rio 2016 is Team Ireland’s best Games ever.”
The OCI has made valuable use of feedback from London 2012 to enhance every aspect of its involvement in the upcoming Rio 2016 Games. The OCI has made regular site checks in Rio to ensure Team Ireland has access to the best possible training spaces and facilities.