Michael Conlan admits to feeling the lure of professional ranks
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Michael Conlan has revealed that he is prepared to give up the fight for an Olympic title in order to turn professional.
Conlan returned to a hero's welcome in Belfast last night, along with the rest of the successful boxing team, who collected nine medals in Glasgow.
And while his attentions have already turned towards bettering his bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics, the 22-year-old Belfast man is also ready to shelve those plans if a satisfactory opportunity to enter the pro ranks comes along beforehand.
"The build-up to Rio starts now. I could be a professional or I could be in Rio. If not the build-up starts for Rio and that's what I'll be training for," said Conlan.
"There are always thoughts about turning professional in my mind, especially after major competitions like this when the spotlight is on you and you're getting all the glory.
"It makes you hungry for it more, but it makes me hungry for gold in Rio as well."
Conlan beat England's Qais Ashfaq to secure the bantamweight gold medal, less than an hour after his friend and room-mate Paddy Barnes had made history by taking flyweight gold – making him the first Northern Ireland boxer to retain a Commonwealth crown.
For Conlan, however, the psychological battle he had to deal with after injury was tougher than the fights he had to win inside the ring in Glasgow.
"It was brilliant, I only got two weeks' sparring for it because I was injured," he said.
"Two weeks' sparring for a major competition like the Commonwealth Games is unsettling in your head and I was very, very nervous, so to come out on top and get the gold was brilliant.
"I had a psychological battle more than a battle in the ring because I knew I was going to go there and do the job physically.
"Mentally I wasn't as prepared as I should have been, but I still went and did the job."
Thoughts of a homecoming party in west-Belfast for the golden boy were, however, put on hold.
"I'm going home and getting a good rest. I'll relax with my girlfriend and that'll be me for the night," said Conlan.
"It's brilliant and I'm over the moon with it, but at the minute I'm wrecked.
"I've had two long nights and I haven't had much sleep, so it's been good craic.
"I'm just glad to get home."