Saturday 10 December 2016

How hubris and complacency put boxers' hopes out for count in Rio

As expectation soared for our Olympic boxing team, ominous signs were apparent but were ignored

Eamonn Sweeney

Published 21/08/2016 | 02:30

‘There was a sense of a man finally brought to the end of his tether by a series of slights’ Photo: Sergey Nivens
‘There was a sense of a man finally brought to the end of his tether by a series of slights’ Photo: Sergey Nivens

The Irish boxing squad's 2016 Olympic campaign has been one of the greatest debacles in Irish sporting history. It's tempting to compare it to the Saipan affair but that analogy doesn't really work. For one thing, the Irish soccer team actually did quite well at the 2002 World Cup finals.

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A more appropriate comparison might be with the collapse of the Celtic Tiger. Like the Irish economy in the Tiger era, Irish amateur boxing seemed an unassailable example of how to do things the right way - a source of pride for ourselves and envy for our neighbours. Then, suddenly, the entire edifice collapsed and with it the reputation which had been so painstakingly built up over the previous decade.

The saddest thing is that, as was also the case during the economic collapse, our wounds were largely self-inflicted. Our problems were rooted in hubris. High achievement led to an arrogant belief that no matter what we did, things would turn out all right. Instead, poor decision-making and complacency sowed the seeds of disaster. It didn't have to turn out this way.

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