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Champ Taylor to defend title

BOXING: Olympic boxing champion Katie Taylor will defend her title at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games after revealing yesterday she had rejected lucrative professional offers to remain in the amateur ranks.

TAYLOR, four-times world champion, won Ireland's first untainted gold medal in 20 years.

Had she turned professional, Taylor would not be eligible to box in Olympic competition.

She said: "The thing with professional boxing is you have to have the right promoter and the right fights. It is a cut-throat business and you're not guaranteed the best fights.

"Just boxing for my country and bringing back medals, there's really nothing better."

The Irish Amateur Boxing Association have not given up hope London silver-medallist John Joe Nevin could be also be retained.

Cavendish quits Sky for Omega

Cycling: Mark Cavendish will be the centre of attention once again after leaving Team Sky for Omega Pharma-QuickStep.

The 27-year-old from the Isle of Man expressed a desire to move on in July at the Tour de France, before going public in September.

Cavendish said: "After a year of being part of the successes at Team Sky I've decided to leave to join Omega Pharma-QuickStep Cycling Team to pursue different goals."

Meanwhile, Cycling Australia has been rocked by vice-president Stephen Hodge quitting after admitting to doping during his career.

Loeb sets pace in Rally Italy opener

AUTO: Sebastien Loeb capitalised on a major gamble from Jari-Matti Latvala to grab an early advantage after the opening day of Rally Italy. Latvala opted to start first after qualifying fastest, but his decision backfired and he finished just over 15 seconds down on Loeb after the 28.14km Terranova stage.

Emerging stars fight for award

CRICKET: The nominations for the inaugaral RSA Cricket Ireland Awards have been announced with three players - James Shannon, Stuart Thompson and Max Sorensen - vying for the 'Aengus Fanning International Emerging Player of the Year Award.'