Tuesday 21 November 2017

O'Neill ready to claim golden ticket to Rio ticket

Boxer Darren O'Neill poses for a portrait before an IABA High Performance Squad training session. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile
Boxer Darren O'Neill poses for a portrait before an IABA High Performance Squad training session. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile

London 2012 Olympian Darren O'Neill insists he can win gold and qualify for successive Games at the World Rio 2016 qualifiers which begin in Baku, Azerbaijan today.

O'Neill, Dean Walsh, Michael O'Reilly and Dean Gardiner fight at light-welter, middle, heavy and super heavy at the penultimate Olympic qualifiers.

The top five in the light-welter and middle classes qualify. It's understood that the losing quarter-finalists will box-off to determine the fifth spot.

There's no ambiguity about O'Neill's and Gardiner's tasks as they must win gold to claim their tickets to Rio in the heavy and super heavy categories.

O'Neill admitted he has a tough task ahead of him in a tournament which represents the end of the Rio line for the entire Irish squad.

"I absolutely don't see why I can't win the gold medal. It has to be gold anyway and you know exactly where you stand," said the Kilkenny southpaw.

"I proved over the last year or so that I can more than hold my own at heavyweight and I know I can beat any of my opponents on my day."

So far, seven Irish boxers Katie Taylor, Paddy Barnes, Brendan Irvine, Michael Conlan, David Oliver Joyce, Steven Donnelly and Joe Ward have qualified for Rio.

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