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Michael Conlan: Rio Olympics heartache will help me become the greatest fighter in Ireland

By Rebecca Black

Published 02/09/2016

Belfast boxer Michael Conlan
Belfast boxer Michael Conlan
Olympic veterans: Michael Conlan with pal Paddy Barnes and their London 2012 bronze medals
Belfast boxer Michael Conlan

Belfast boxer Michael Conlan has vowed that his Olympic heartache will be the catalyst to make him the greatest fighter Ireland has ever seen.

The Bantam weight boxer told RTE's Late Late Show on Friday that he is currently in talks to start a professional career and confirmed: "I am done with amateur boxing".

He was left bitterly disappointed at the Olympic Games in Rio when his dream of an Olympic gold ended when judges awarded the quarter final win to his Russian rival  Vladimir Nikitin.

"I wouldn't waste another four years of my life (training for the Tokyo Olynpics)," he told the Late Late Show,

"I am in talks with a few people ... I have got a lot of offers."

Conlan admitted he is sad his lifelong dream of an Olympic gold is over, but said the disappointment will spur him on.

"It will be the driving force in my career, a catalyst to me becoming a world champion and the greatest fighter Ireland has ever had."

Host Ryan Tubridy also asked him if he regretted his furious post fight interview where he accused the judges of corruption.

"I don't regret what I said, I stand by everything I said," he said.

"It was my dream ... it made me feel relief that I spoke my mind."

Michael Conlan following his defeat to Vladimir Nikitin of Russia
Michael Conlan following his defeat to Vladimir Nikitin of Russia

He also expressed disappointment that Nikitin stepped aside and didn't try for the gold.

"He took my dream off me and didn't even try to replicate it," he said.

"As Paddy Barnes always says bronze medals are for losers, I have a bronze (from London 2012) but I was going for the gold (in Rio).

"I have dreamed of being an Olympic champion my whole life."

Just before appearing on the show, Conlan met five-year-old Finn McManus who had written to him after the Olympics offering him a medal he had won.

Finn wrote: "Hi Michael, My name is Finn McManus and I am five years old.

"I saw your fight in Rio and you should have won because you are the best boxer in the world.

"I want you to have my school medal because you are a winner. I hope you like it, from Finn."

Conlan presented the young lad with a pair of custom-made gloves.

Co Cork brothers Paul (22) and Gary (23) O'Donovan who won silver in the men's lightweight double sculls in Rio also appeared on the show.

They have become overnight celebrities in Ireland since their win, capturing the hearts of the nation with their fun loving personalities, and returned home to Skibbereen to a rapturous reception.

They joked they are now scared to leave the house due to so many well wishers desperate to meet them and congratulate them.

The boys revealed one of their secrets was their grandmother's home made brown bread and soup to help them refuel between intense training sessions.

However they admitted that during the Olympics they couldn't understand Conlan's Belfast accent, claiming that his fellow boxer had to translate their Co Cork accents to Conlan and his Belfast accent to them.

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