Wednesday 17 January 2018

As proud as punch


ADAM NOLAN may have left the ring with his Olympic dream over - but he still did The Ballagh and Wexford proud.

His bid to win his way through to the medals came unstuck on Friday night last as the Braybased Garda went down to a 18-9 defeat against Russia's former World championship silver medalist, Andrey Zamkovoy, who was denied the gold medal on that occasion on a countback.

Even before getting to London the achievements of The Ballagh boxer had been lauded in winning two back-to-back Senior titles, this after taking a period away from the sport to concentrate on his studies which eventually led him to qualify as a Garda.

His return to boxing in the Bray-based club under the guidance of Pete Taylor, father and coach of Katie, saw him first win the national Intermediate title, before going on to win two consecutive Senior titles.

He later burst on the European scene when winning gold at the qualifiers but he was still the most inexperienced member of the Irish squad travelling to the Olympics, with only a handful of international appearances behind him.

Experience-wise he was the baby of the team but he managed to put all that behind him when gaining an impressive opening round victory.

But everyone knew this last 16 bout was a serious step up in standard for the 25-year-old Ballagh man.

He was always facing an uphill struggle against the Russian who is a real live medal hope in this weight division.

But Nolan certainly gave it a good go though. His southpaw stance seemed to unsettle Zamkovoy somewhat in the early stages as Nolan more than held his own through the opening round, at the end of which the Russian had just a one-point lead, 3-2.

Although Nolan showed in the second round that he wasn't afraid to mix it, the Russian managed to extend his lead, and he showed his experience in standing off and picking off Nolan as he came in to take a 9-6 lead into the third and final round.

Zamkovoy's greater experience basically took over in the last round. Nolan knew he had to go after his opponent to seek out crucial points, but the Russian never lost his composure as he boxed with confidence, picking off the point-scoring punches as his opponent tried to force the fight.

The Russian's greater experience was particularly evident in the closing minute as he really moved forward, forcing Nolan to take a standing count before the final bell.

Despite his elimination, Nolan's venture was one of the fairytale stories of the Olympic Games. Having come from obscurity through the Irish Intermediate and Senior championships, going on to annex gold in the European qualifiers, Nolan became the first sportsman from The Ballagh to participate in the Olympic Games.

Four years ago Nolan could only have dreamed of participating in the Olympic Games.

He achieved that dream, while even before getting to London he had become the leading Irish boxer in his weight division where he defied all the boxing pundits at national level in putting Senior national titles back to back.

His achievement in winning gold at the European qualifiers was something special but it's his participation in the Olympic Games that will forever live in his memory.

He gave the performances of his young life over the past three years. Now he can look forward to winning a third successive national title and going on to compete in the World championships. A lot can happen between now and the 2016 Olympic Games but Nolan is still young enough to savour a second appearance at the Games.

The RTE boxing pundits, even despite the defeat, spoke in glowing terms of his potential with greater experience, and a tidying up of his skills.

There's no doubt that Nolan has the ability, discipline and dedication to take this to another level.

Wexford and The Ballagh can feel proud of the achievements of Adam Nolan.

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