Thursday 22 March 2018

Team IRL shocked as Rory gives up shot at gold medal

Team Ireland athletes expressed dismay at Rory McIlroy's decision to stay away from Rio (Picture: AP)
Team Ireland athletes expressed dismay at Rory McIlroy's decision to stay away from Rio (Picture: AP)
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

Team Ireland Olympic athletes have reacted to Rory McIlroy's decision to pull out of the games with a mixture of anger and a renewed determination to compete themselves.

Irish Olympic sailor Annalise Murphy said making it to the games to represent her country was her dream and she was unconcerned about the Zika virus.

Murphy, who will represent Ireland in the laser radial event, pointed out the Olympics are taking place in the middle of winter in Rio - when there will be fewer mosquitoes.

"I've been in Rio four times in the last seven months. There are not that many mosquitoes in the city.

"The Olympics are in August, which is the middle of winter for Rio. The Zika virus is not really a concern for me," she said.

"The Olympics are my dream, I've been working the last few years of my life for this. Most athletes would be the same," she said.

Murphy pointed out that while there were a number of prestigious golf tournaments, the Olympics is the biggest one for most disciplines.

Speaking about McIlroy's decision not to compete for Team Ireland she said: "It's his decision, he's obviously decided it's too big a risk for him."

Meanwhile, Natalya Coyle, who will represent Ireland in the modern pentathlon, expressed her shock at the golfer's decision.

"Seriously? It's the ultimate honour to represent your country at the Olympics and we've top medical staff looking after us," she wrote on social networking site Twitter.

Her post was accompanied by a copy of McIlroy's statement.

Darren O'Neill, who just lost out on the chance to represent Ireland in boxing at the Games, had even stronger words for the golfer, saying the team were better off without him.

"I have cried tears and spilled blood in trying to qualify for Rio. This affirms my opinions. We are better off without him," O'Neill, who was the Irish boxing captain four years ago, said on Twitter.

He also took to RTE's 'Liveline' to vent his anger about the golfer's decision.

"For the likes of myself it's nearly a kick in the teeth to be honest with you," he said.

"To see somebody who had the chance to represent their country at the Olympics, which in my opinion is the greatest sense of pride that you can have, to not take that chance doesn't make sense to me," he said.

Speaking on the show O'Neill was frustrated that McIlroy pulled out, but admitted that it must have been a hard decision for him.

Irish Independent

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