Friday 9 December 2016

A failed drugs test, some farcical judging and zero medals: Irish boxing's two weeks from hell

Published 16/08/2016 | 17:04

Vladimir Nikitin of Russia is declared victorious over Michael Conlan of Ireland during their Bantamweight Quarter final bout at the Riocentro Pavillion 6 Arena during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Vladimir Nikitin of Russia is declared victorious over Michael Conlan of Ireland during their Bantamweight Quarter final bout at the Riocentro Pavillion 6 Arena during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The Irish boxing team won four medals at the London Olympics in 2012 - their highest total since the Melbourne games in 1956 - but Rio 2016 promised to deliver even more.

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Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan and Katie Taylor were deemed podium certainties while there were high hopes for Michael O'Reilly and Joe Ward too.

Instead, all five - plus Brendan Irvine, Steven Donnelly and David Oliver Joyce - leave Brazil empty handed after a disastrous few weeks for Irish boxing.

Ireland's overall record at the 2016 Olympics  is a very disappointing four wins and seven losses - four of the eight qualified fighters didn't win a bout while O'Reilly didn't compete at all after testing positive in a drugs test.

Here is a timeline of Irish boxing's miserable fortnight.

August 4th - On the eve of the games, it is announced that Irish middleweight Michael O'Reilly tested positive for a banned substance. One week later, he admits to accidentally taking a supplement that contained a banned substance without the knowledge of the Irish team. He now faces a two year ban.

August 7th - Welterweight Steven Donnelly gets Ireland's Olympics off to a promising start with a unanimous decision win in the last 32 over Algeria's Zohir Gedache. David Oliver Joyce then wins his last 32 lightweight bout against Andrique Allisop of the Seychelles.

August 8th - Irish team captain Paddy Barnes shockingly goes down in his last 32 light flyweight fight to Spaniard Samuel Carmona Heredia. Barnes subsequently blames the gruelling weight cut for his sluggish performance.

August 9th - David Oliver Joyce loses his last 16 lightweight fight to Azerbaijan's Albert Selimov by unanimous decision.

August 10th - Medal favourite Joe Ward is stunned in his last 32 light heavyweight fight against Ecuadorian Carlos Mina. Ward is deducted two points in his split decision loss and becomes the second medal prospect to be eliminated.

August 11th - Steven Donnelly advances to the quarter-final of the welterweight division after a narrow split decision over Mongolia's Tuvshinbat Byamba.

August 13th - Brendan Irvine loses his opening fight in the flyweight round of 32 to Uzbekistan's Shakhobidin Zoirov. Shortly afterwards, Steven Donnelly loses his medal fight by unanimous decision to Morocco's Mohammed Rabii.

August 14th - Michael Conlan gets his Olympics underway with a win in the last 16 of the bantamweight competition against Armenia's Avram Avagyan.

August 15th - Gold medal hope Katie Taylor loses in the quarter-final of the women's lightweight category. Her controversial split decision loss to Finland's Mira Potkonen is fiercely debated.

August 16th - Michael Conlan drops a heavily criticised split decision to Russia's Vladimir Nikitin in the bantamweight quarter-final, which denies him a medal. The loss means that for the first time since the 2004 Athens Olympics, Ireland will win no boxing medals.

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