Belfast Telegraph

Commonwealth Games: boxers need to punch above their weight to address Northern Ireland's paltry medals haul

By Amanda Ferguson

Boxers - it's up to you. The wait goes on for Northern Ireland's first gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.

But sports fans are looking to our boxing team to deliver a barrage of medals following a disappointing start to the Games in Glasgow.

Hopes had been high that cycling star and Team NI flagbearer Martyn Irvine would do the business in Glasgow. Following a horrible showing for the Newtownards racer in the 20km Scratch Race, attention now turns to our pugilists to hopefully claim our first gold at the Games.

So far Northern Ireland has claimed one silver and one bronze in Glasgow.

England has 72 medals, Scotland has 33, Wales has 22. Our two puts us just ahead of Bahamas, Bangladesh and the Isle of Man among others, in the medal table.

Belfast boxer Michael Conlan is one fight away from securing a medal after defeating Shiva Thapa from India.

He is the fifth boxer from Northern Ireland to reach the last eight – just one fight away from at least a bronze.

Shortly after his win he took to Twitter to share his thoughts.

"That's the second one out of the way against world no.3 ranked boxer, happy with the win even tho it was scrappy!" he wrote.

Later yesterday he was joined in the quarter finals by fellow Belfast boxer Paddy Barnes. The Olympic medallist tweeted: "Good run out tonight to ease myself into the competition at long last! Now the fun begins!"

On day one of the competition, Lisa Kearney won Northern Ireland's first medal – a bronze – after defeating Canadian Audree Francis-Methot to end a 12-year judo medal drought.

The second medal for Team NI was a silver in the Men's Triples bowls yesterday.

Paul Daly, Neil Mulholland and retiring skipper Neil Booth had to settle for silver after South Africa won 19-10 in the final at Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls centre.

Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilín said: "While the bowlers will be disappointed in losing out to South Africa in the final, they can be proud of their achievements this week and their hard work in preparing for the Games has been justly rewarded with a silver medal. It's a fantastic achievement and I congratulate the trio on their success."

The Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council (NICGC) told the Belfast Telegraph Team NI had been set a target of five medals ahead of the Games, and provided an update on the mood in the camp.

"Everyone is in good spirit within the team," NICGC chairman Robert McVeigh said.

"There is a very positive feeling within the camp.

"All the athletes seem to be up for the training, dedicated to the job in hand and what has emerged from that are good performances.

"We have noted that right across all sports where people are achieving what they set out to achieve before the Games started.

"As the Games go on there will be more medal opportunities because knockout competitions go right to the very end, and let's just see what happens.

"A lot of things are outside of our control.

"What is within our control we are doing the best to get the best performance we possibly can from our athletes."

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