Friday 9 December 2016

Watch: Irish boxer David Oliver Joyce drops to his knees in delight after qualifying for Rio

Sean McGoldrick

Published 17/04/2016 | 16:43

17 April 2016; David Joyce, Ireland, celebrates, after beating Volkan Gokcek, Turkey, in their Men's Lightweight 60kg Box-Off bout. AIBA 2016 European Olympic Qualification Tournament Event. Samsun, Turkey. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
17 April 2016; David Joyce, Ireland, celebrates, after beating Volkan Gokcek, Turkey, in their Men's Lightweight 60kg Box-Off bout. AIBA 2016 European Olympic Qualification Tournament Event. Samsun, Turkey. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

DAVID Oliver Joyce finally reached the Promised Land when he qualified for the Rio Olympics in Samsun, Turkey this afternoon.

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Four years ago at the World championships in Baku the St Michael's Athy lightweight was within eight seconds of qualifying for the London Games in 2012 only for disaster to strike.

He was harshly penalised for what the referee perceived to be a foul; the point he was docked meant that his Indian opponent won the bout by a point. Had it finished level Joyce would have won it on countback and boxed in the Olympics

He contemplated retiring from boxing but was enticed back into the sport via to new AIBA pro series. He didn't qualify for the Rio Olympics via that route but finally got a break – in Turkey and against a Turkish opponent!

But fortune favours the brave and conscious of the fact that a slow start probably cost him victory in the semi-final on Friday, Joyce got the nod from two of the judges after round one.

But the Turk Volkan Gokcek responded well and won round two on all three judges cards. This left the fight delicately balanced. It was level on two judges' cards with the Turk ahead on one card.

However, facing the most important three minutes of his boxing career Joyce – who is a cousin of Joe Ward who has already qualified for the Olympics - produced what was required and won the round on all three judges' cards.

It mattered little that he won on a majority 2-1 decision – 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 – the margins are invariably tight in these fights. What mattered was that his hand was raised and he had made the Olympics.

His victory means that Ireland are now guaranteed six boxers at the Rio Olympics. Joyce and Brendan Irvine qualified in the last 24 hours while Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, Ward and Steven Donnelly had already booked their places.

Even if no other Irish boxer make it to Rio the fact that six has qualified means that Ireland has equalled their biggest ever representation in boxing at the Olympics since the qualifying system was introduced. Ireland also had six boxers at the Barcelona Olympics but the qualifying process was much less demanding then.

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