Belfast Telegraph

MBE for gold medal boxer Barnes

Belfast boxing champion Paddy Barnes has said he is a proud Irish sportsman after accepting an MBE in the Queen's New Year Honours.

He twice won Olympic bronze medals for Ireland and took gold for Northern Ireland in the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The light flyweight was enveloped in controversy following this year's medal ceremony in Glasgow when he said Northern Ireland's unofficial anthem was not his.

Barnes said tonight: "I am a proud Irish sportsman, a proud sportsman from Belfast and I take great pride in representing everyone in Ireland, north and south, in whatever way I can.

"If my achievements in boxing can inspire others and people can be united through sport, then my efforts will have been worthwhile."

Barnes is from North Belfast's Ardoyne, an area of conflict during Orange marches. But he has said he is a sportsman and could not care about anything else.

In 2008 and 2012 he won Olympic bronze and followed that with gold in the Commonwealths this year.

The accompanying music in Glasgow when he took to the podium to receive his medal as part of the Northern Ireland team was Danny Boy.

His comments on Twitter afterwards suggested it was not his anthem and Northern Ireland did not have one.

Barnes said: "I am pleased to have been recognised in the Queen's honours list for 2015 for my contribution to the sport of boxing and for my contribution to work in this community.

"This recognition also acknowledges my success in the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and 2014 in India and Scotland respectively.

"I am pleased to accept it on behalf of boxing, my community, coaches, friends and family, who have supported my career from the first frustrating youth defeats to medal success on Olympic and Commonwealth stages."

He said he looked forward to the challenges that next year will offer as he made plans to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.

"I would like to thank all those who have supported me in any way over the years and, as always, I will do my utmost to honour the faith and belief that you have had, and continue to have in me.

"I wish everyone a happy and successful 2015."

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