Thursday 12 December 2019

Former Irish Olympian who narrowly missed out on Rio slams Rory McIlroy's Olympic call

Darren O'Neill was not impressed by Rory McIlroy's decision to pull out of the Rio Olympics
Darren O'Neill was not impressed by Rory McIlroy's decision to pull out of the Rio Olympics Newsdesk Newsdesk

Rory McIlroy has decided not to compete at this summer's Olympics in Rio due to fears over the Zika virus and his decision has irked a former Irish Olympian.

Darren O'Neill, who captained the Irish boxing team at London four years ago, has slammed the world number four for not taking the opportunity to travel to Brazil in August.

O'Neill saw his final opportunity to qualify for Rio earlier this week end in disappointment when he was beaten by Wesley Apochi from Nigeria in the final Olympic qualifying tournament in Baku.

He tweeted: "I have cried tears & spilled blood in trying to qualify for Rio. This affirms my opinions. We are better w/o him!!"

Natalya Coyle, who will represent Ireland in the Modern Penthatlon, also expressed her surprise at the decision.

She tweeted: "Seriously? It's the ultimate honor to represent your country at Olympics & we've top medical staff looking after us."

She later deleted the tweet.

27-year-old McIlroy is the first major name to pull out of the Summer Olympic Games, with fellow golfers Vijay Singh and Marc Leishman also confirming their intention not to travel to Brazil for the start of the tournament in August where golf will make its Olympic return after a 112-year absence.

In a statement released on Wednesday morning, McIlroy announced that he will not participate at the Olympics due to the Zika virus, and stated that the health of both himself and his family “comes before everything else.”

McIlroy got engaged to Erica Stoll back in December.

Zika virus is a disease that has been borne from mosquitos and has been linked to brain defects among new-born babies, with Brazil one of the hardest hit countries.

Earlier this month, London 2012 long jump gold medallist Greg Rutherford had his sperm frozen due to his own fears about the Zika virus, with his partner Susie Verrill confirming that they were taking every precaution against the disease.

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