Saturday 1 October 2016

'I've already won the gold medal' - Conlan

Michael Verney

Published 28/01/2016 | 02:30

Michael Conlan in Dun Laoghaire yesterday for the launch of Wings for Life World Run:INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Michael Conlan in Dun Laoghaire yesterday for the launch of Wings for Life World Run:INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Olympic medal hopeful Michael Conlan believes no one will stand in his way of taking gold in Rio this summer while admitting he is "still deciding" whether to turn professional in the future.

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The Belfast bantamweight feels Olympic dominance is a certainty while he is non-committal on his future with amateur boxing now offering viable options for his future.

Conlan could yet feature in Tokyo 2020 with the APB (AIBA Professional Boxing) and WSB (World Series Boxing) tempting him to resist turning professional.

Speaking at the launch of the 2016 Wings for Life World Run, which takes place simultaneously at 34 locations worldwide on May 8, Conlan said: "I know already I've won gold.

Unthinkable

"I see myself lifting the medal already and no one's going to stop me from picking it up. Losing is unthinkable. I don't know the word lose, I don't understand it. You can only lose if you accept losing and I won't accept it.

"I know APB is a great option financially and it's a professional route. Hopefully Ireland will have a team in the WSB very soon and it would probably interest me to stay, whatever is beneficial for my career after Rio."

While lamenting Billy Walsh's exit as IABA High Performance head coach, Conlan is thankful that little has changed with Zaur Antia, his father John and Eddie Bolger maintaining high performance standards.

And the 24-year-old enjoys renewing his professional relationship with his dad, who has coached him since he was seven. "It's great because Billy was like a father figure to me, and now my father has actually stepped in," he said.

"It's good and it's bad at the same time because I don't get away with as messing as much as I'm used. He's a good coach and he's learning off the best coach in the world in Zaur Antia.

"Dad knows boxing inside out and he knows me inside out. He knows how I feel, knows when I'm up or down, knows how to control my moods. Boxers can be divas at times and it's good to have him there."

Conlan had a "fantastic" 2015, becoming the first Irishman to claim a world amateur boxing gold and having returned to training four weeks ago, he is raring to go as he eyes another slice of history.

Ireland's only two Olympic boxing gold medallists, Michael Carruth and Katie Taylor, both had their father in their corner and the after taking bronze four years ago at flyweight, Conlan feels he is now a better fighter.

"If I had've been professional after 2012 I probably wouldn't have been half the boxer I'm going to be. The experience has been fantastic. I'm world champion and still learning," he said.

"I think I'm a different animal now to what I was in 2012 even though I had the belief, this time is different. I know I'm going there and nothing's going to stop me. I've really started believing in myself more than anything.

"Paddy Barnes told me if you go to the Olympics too focused and in the zone too much, you won't enjoy it and if you lose you'll be going, 'Ah I didn't have a good time at the Olympics'.

"We went around the village on bikes shouting 'G'day mate' at the Australians. We were probably taking other people off their game but we were enjoying the experience."

It's no laughing matter when Conlan steps between the ropes, however, and he is confident of fulfilling his Olympic destiny in 2016.

Irish Independent

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