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Barnes secures London berth

PADDY BARNES has qualified for the London Olympics in impressive style - and he dedicated his win to tragic former team-mate Darren Sutherland.

Barnes defeated Romanian Stefan Caslarov 17-9 to book his place in London this summer.

"There was never any doubt in my mind that I would get there, it was just a matter of getting the job done," he said.

"It was special, too, that it happened on the day of what would have been Darren Sutherland's 30th birthday, and I am proud to dedicate this victory and achievement to him."

The Belfast native has vowed to finish the Olympic qualifying tournament in Trabzon, Turkey, in style. "Go on (and) win gold here. I'm fighting a Turk next. That will be good. Shut that crowd up," he said, referring to the nine Turkish fighters who fought and won yesterday.

Of his fight, he said: "I was very nervous. I was a bit edgy. I'm just glad I got it out of the way.



Colour

"The first time I came out and he hit me (with) a body shot. I couldn't even breathe. I looked at the referee and went Ughhh ... another Olympics, ah yeah, and hopefully another medal with a better colour."

Irish head coach Billy Walsh believes that we have only seen a fraction of what Barnes is capable of.

"Fantastic achievement," said Walsh. "He hasn't had the best of years but we sat down and put a plan together and he's responding magnificently to it.

"All the baggage is behind him. We're still struggling with his performance, but his performance was good enough to get him to London.

"I think there's another 50 per cent in him. He lost his way for a while. He stopped learning. Having won an Olympic medal and having won the Europeans, he thought he knew everything. We had this over a few years.

"He said 'I'll keep my engine right, I know what to do'. But he began to learn again because he realised he wasn't learning.

"The last eight weeks we really pushed, got enough improvement in him to get him over the line here," added Walsh.

Adam Nolan also claimed victory yesterday, but David Oliver Joyce, despite a brave performance, lost out in his attempt to book a ticket for the 30th Olympiad following a 19-10 reversal to Lithuanian lightweight Evaldas Petrauskas.

Nolan advanced to the 69kg semi-final courtesy of a 17-13 decision over Azeri welterweight Tamerlan Abdullayev and must now beat Romania's Ionut Gheorghe to join Barnes in the British capital.

Belfast heavyweight Tommy McCarthy recorded Ireland's third win of the day over Josepf Darmos but must win both his semi-final and final to qualify for the Games.


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