Irish team captain Darren O’Neill believes that performance will be the key to success at the 2012 Olympic Games.
The Kilkenny southpaw was speaking at today’s IABA London 2012 Press Conference at Dublin’s National Stadium.
O’Neill, Paddy Barnes, a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics, 23-year-old John Joe Nevin, who was the youngest member of the Irish 2008 Olympic squad, Katie Taylor, Adam Nolan and Michael Conlan will represent Ireland in the boxing event at the 2012 Olympic Games.
The Irish squad have been training and sparring with India and Tunisia at the National Stadium over the last three weeks and leave for their final training camp in Assisi, Italy on Friday.
Ireland will train with the host nation, Azerbaijan and a team from the Ukraine in Assisi before departing for London on July 24th.
The seeding procedure for the Games will be finalised immediately after the general weigh-in on July 27th.
The opening bell for the boxing event at the 30th Olympiad will toll on July 28th.
“All of the squad are capable of winning medals if we performance to the best of our abilities. We’re capable of beating anyone, but they’re capable of beating us also, so it is crucial that we perform to the best, said O’Neill, a silver medal winner at the 2012 European Championships in Moscow.
“A bit of luck with the draw would also be welcome in London, but that’s outside our control. However, we can control is our own performances. If we do that the rest will follow.”
Nevin, O’Neill and Conlan qualified for London 2012 courtesy of reaching the last-four and quarter-finals of the 2011 AIBA World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, Nevin winning bronze.
Nolan, who, along with Italian southpaw Roberto Cammarelle, will be one of at least two police officers boxing at the Games, and Barnes, claimed gold and bronze en route to booking their tickets at the final Olympic qualifier for European male boxers in Trabzon, Turkey in April.
Taylor secured her berth after winning a fourth successive title at the 7th AIBA World Women’s Championships – which was acting as the only Olympic qualifier for females – in Qinhuangdao, China in May. She also scooped the Boxer of the Tournament award in Asia.
Women’s boxing will make its historic Olympic debut in three weight categories – flyweight, lightweight and middleweight – in London.
Taylor was unable to attend this today’s press conference and issued the following statement.
“My sincere apologies for not making the press conference this morning. My training commitments are more demanding than ever and every session is crucial at this stage of preparations.
“Each day between now and my first contest in the Olympic Games has been planned to the last detail.
“Training for London is going well, while there is still a few weeks for improvements. I am looking forward to the training camp in Italy with the rest of the team to finish my preparations.
“I take nothing for granted. My intention is to go to London in the best condition of my career.For me it has been a life long ambition to be representing my country in the Olympic Games, so I want to enjoy the privilege and take it all in.
“I am aware of the expectation that is on me, but nobody expects more of me than myself. For me a medal in London will be another gift from God in a lifetime of blessings.”
Cavan BC bantamweight Nevin, the only Irish male boxer in the 101-year history of the IABA to win two World Championship medals (he won bronze in Milan in 2009 and bronze in Baku in 2011) is eager to experience that Olympic buzz again.
“The last Olympic was a fantastic experience, but I was very young at the time and it passed me by a bit. London is my second Olympics and this time out I have experience under my belt, said the former European Union champion.
IABA President Tommy Murphy added: “We have a strong, experienced squad travelling to London and I am confident that they will do us proud. The qualifying campaign certainly had its ups and downs along the way, but this team came through it and won the right to represent their country at the Games.
“They can be very proud of that and very proud of the fact that they are Olympians. The 2012 Olympics games will be a marvelous occasion and the next few weeks promises to be a very exciting time for Irish boxing and Irish sport.”
Irish team manager Des Donnelly also believes that that performance will be the crucial factor at the ExCel venue.
“The squad have come through a long and hard qualifying campaign and nothing has come easy along the way.
“What we’re looking for is performances. If they Irish team perform to the best of their abilities then the rest will fall into place.
250 male and 36 female boxers will compete at the 2012 Olympic Games across 13 weight categories.
52 medals, a record for boxing, will be awarded at the 2012 Games.
Paul McDermot and Finbar Kirwan of the Irish Sports Council and Peader Casey and Stephen Martin of the Olympic Council of Ireland attended today’s press conference.
Irish 2012 Olympic squad
49Kg (Light-flyweight) Paddy Barnes (Holy Family BC, Belfast)
52kg (Flyweight) Michael Conlan (St John Bosco BC, Belfast)
56kg (Bantamweight) John Joe Nevin (Cavan BC)
60kg (Lghtweight) Katie Taylor (Bray BC, Wicklow)
69kg (Welterweight) Adam Nolan (Bray BC, Wicklow)
75kg (Middleweight) Darren O’Neill (Paulstown BC, Kilkenny)
Team Manager: Des Donnelly
Coaches: Billy Walsh, Zuar Antia, Pete Taylor
Physio: Conor McCarthy
Performance Psychologist: Gerry Hussey