Youth Olympics champ home to hero's welcome
A SEA of flags and cheering faces greeted the new star of Irish boxing as he arrived back with an historic Youth Olympic gold medal under his belt last night.
Ryan Burnett (18) was quite rightly still savouring his victory at the games in Singapore as he was carried aloft into the arrivals area of Dublin Airport with his gold medal clasped proudly in his right hand.
The light-flyweight may only be fresh from his victory over Azerbaijan's Salman Alizida, but the Belfast teenager already has another medal in his sights.
"2012 -- that is the goal," the boxer from the Holy Family Boxing Club in Belfast said as the Irish team arrived to the claps and cheers of their relatives. "I'm very, very happy. I'm going to have a bit of a break then back to the gym, I'll be listening to my coaches."
He gave his delighted father and mother, Brian and Bernadette Burnett, and little brother Eoghan (11) a hug.
His father Brian promised a party in their estate on the Antrim Road awaited, which would rival any St Patrick's Day celebrations in Dublin.
"We are over the moon, it is the best thing. Ryan has been training for this since he was nine and he has worked hard," his father said.
The family watched the match live on the internet. "I was out the back shaking, Brian was watching it and keeping me up to date," his mother said. "I watch the matches afterwards on DVD when I know the results."
Ms Burnett said their thoughts had also been with the other boxer who had travelled to Singapore, world champion Joe Ward, who broke his scoring hand in the first contest.
"Ryan is heading for the 2012 Olympics and the Worlds, he would have to qualify at the World Senior Boxing Championships," his father said.
"The club has produced six Olympians, our son being the sixth," he joked of the Belfast club.