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'It's very, very tough' - emotional Emmet Brennan fights back tears after Olympic defeat

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Emmet Brennan of Ireland following his defeat to Dilshod Ruzmetov of Uzbekistan in the Men's Light Heavyweight Round of 32 at the Kokugikan Arena during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Emmet Brennan of Ireland following his defeat to Dilshod Ruzmetov of Uzbekistan in the Men's Light Heavyweight Round of 32 at the Kokugikan Arena during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Emmet Brennan of Ireland following his defeat to Dilshod Ruzmetov of Uzbekistan in the Men's Light Heavyweight Round of 32 at the Kokugikan Arena during the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

There was no fairy-tale finale to the Emmet Brennan Olympic journey in the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo tonight.

He lost on a unanimous decision to world silver-medallist Dilshod Ruzmetov from Uzbekistan in a last-32 light-heavyweight contest.

The 30-year-old Dubliner, whose preparation had been hampered in recent months by a succession of injuries, lacked nothing in commitment and endeavour against the classy southpaw.

But in a surprisingly untidy contest it wasn’t enough as his 22-year-old opponent won 5-0 (30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28).

An emotional Brennan acknowledged he was off the pace in the first round in a fight punctuated by frequent interventions by the referee.

He did better in the second and two of the judges gave the Irish champion the nod. But the Asian champion was in cruise control in the final round. In all probability Ruzmetov, who packs a powerful counter-punch, will end up with a medal.

"It was tough," said Brennan. "I was off the pace in the first round. He caught me with a body shot at the end of the first, badly, and I'd already had a rib injury before I got in.

"I tried to pick it up in the second round. I did pick it up, but I was too far off the pace, he was too sharp. I gave an effort but any time I got on the inside, he spoiled which was smart on his side. He did what he had to do to win. I've no complaints with that."

In truth from the moment the draw was made Brennan knew his faced a huge task

“It was a tough draw. You're talking about me having been injured for the last six months. It would have been good to get an easier fight.

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“There are no easy fights in this but obviously if you're fighting the world no 2 and Asian champion you would have liked a fight or two before that. But it's the Olympics, there are no easy fights and it's the luck of the draw when it comes to that."

While Brennan said he enjoyed the Olympic experience the defeat left a sour taste

“It will probably be three, four, five months before I look on it and enjoy the experience. The lads (coaches) have been great for me. I've been injured and they've done everything they can to get me here.”

But despite his injury issues – he wasn’t able to spar before the European qualifiers – there was never any question of him not fighting in Tokyo.

"You're not going to pull out of it. You could have a broken arm and you're not pulling out of the Olympic Games.

"It's just unfortunate, you're in the biggest moment of your life and your body is giving up on you. But it's stuff that you have to overcome, and I did, I believed I was going to overcome it.

"I have a strong mental game and I thought no matter what he was going to throw at me I'd come out the other side. But look, it wasn't to be.

"That's life, you move on, the sun rises tomorrow and sets tomorrow night. It's a bitter pill to swallow but life goes on."

Holding back tears Brennan expressed thanks for all the support he received from Ireland.

“I didn't realise the support I was going to get - that's probably what made me the proudest. It's tough. The support I got at home is unbelievable, it's something that I never thought I'd get.

“It's bitter that it's ended now but I'm thankful for the support I got. Look I enjoyed the experience but it's not what I came here for.

"You'll always be hurt over that. It's the Olympics, it's the best athletes in the world so yeah, it's tough. It's very, very tough.”

Meanwhile, less than 24 hours after his older sister Michaela made her Olympic debut, Aidan Walsh will join her on Tuesday as the first ever brother and sister to compete in boxing at the same Games.

Unlike the majority of his Irish colleagues, the welterweight got a lucky break in the draw by receiving a bye into the last 16.

He faces a 22-year old opponent Albert Mengue Ayissi from Cameroon. He began his campaign on Saturday in impressive style with the referee intervening and stopping his contest after his opponent Thabiso Dlamini was in no position to defend himself.

Walsh came through the European qualifiers in Paris and though he is stepping up in class in Tokyo, the big prize if he wins is a place in the last eight and one win away from an elusive Olympic medal.


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