Sunday 23 October 2016

Flag-bearer Paddy Barnes hoping to get some luck and a 'breather' from boxing draw

Published 04/08/2016 | 02:30

Irish boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon caught up with tennis legend Rafa Nadal yesterday in Rio
Irish boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon caught up with tennis legend Rafa Nadal yesterday in Rio

Paddy Barnes could be in the Olympic ring within hours of carrying the Irish flag at tomorrow night's Opening Ceremony in Rio.

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The Belfast light-fly - a bronze medallist in both Beijing and London - could be pitched into Saturday's morning's opening boxing session unless he gets a seeding for today's draw. Barnes is considered among the favourites for gold, but has come to the Games without an AIBA ranking, having qualified through the World Series of Boxing.

Ten of the 22 light-fly competitors will get a bye into the next round with the other 12 boxing off on Saturday, half of them in the morning session, starting at 11.0am (3.0pm Irish time).

Barnes has expressed immense pride at being chosen as Ireland's flag-bearer for tomorrow's Maracana spectacular, but it will almost certainly mean returning to the athletes' village in the early hours, which is hardly ideal preparation for a morning bout.

Today's draw could also pitch lightweight David Oliver Joyce and light-heavy Joe Ward into Saturday morning action, although Ward too will be hoping for a bye.

Olympic and World champions Katie Taylor and France's Estelle Mossely will earn the top seeds in the 12-boxer women's lightweight class in today's draw.

The pair are ranked No 1 and 2 in the world. Only two seeds are awarded if a division has fewer than 15 and more than four boxers.

Likewise, both should receive byes into the last-eight with two others, leaving the other eight to battle it out on August 12 to make up the quarter-finalists for August 15.

Mossely beat Taylor en route to gold on a split decision after their World semi-finals ended in a majority draw earlier this year.

But the Bray woman, who arrived in Rio on Tuesday, beat the Parisian orthodox in the 2015 European Games, 2014 European Elite and 2013 EU finals.

The women's seeds are clear-cut as they only compete in regular amateur boxing, officially called AIBA Open Boxing (AOB), and not the World Series (WSB) of Boxing or AIBA Pro Boxing (APB). But performances in the WSB and APB will be factored into the seeding equation with AOB for men.

Paul McGinley, meanwhile, has played down his role as captain of the men's golf team hoping to be in medal contention the weekend after next at Reserva de Marapendi.

Pádraig Harrington and Seamus Power will carry Ireland's hopes but McGinley, whose involvement in six winning Ryder Cup campaigns made him the outstanding candidate for captain, reflected: "It's important I don't contaminate their approach.

"I am not as hung up about who wins. It is the relevance of being there, helping promote golf, putting on a show and enjoying being part of the biggest sporting event in the world."

Irish Independent

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