Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

I'll not put Rory under pressure over Rio, says Lord Coe

Lord Coe is the chairman of the British Olympic Association and as such will hope Team GB return home with gold medals galore from Rio 2016.

The legendary middle distance runner and double Olympic champion has revealed, however, he will put no pressure on Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy to join the GB squad in three years time.

When it was deemed that golf would become an Olympic sport, there was much debate as to whether Games chiefs had made the right call, but that argument has paled into insignificance compared to the question about who Holywood's finest will represent in Brazil.

He can opt for Team GB, Team Ireland or not play at all. Coe is hopeful that it won't be option number three.

Recently the R & A chief executive Peter Dawson suggested McIlroy may be bound to play for Ireland due to representing the island previously in amateur and professional world team championships and other events.

McIlroy, in turn, who previously stated he felt more British than Irish, insisted that as far as he was concerned the decision would be up to him.

The two time major winner declared: "I think Rule 41 in the Olympic Charter states that I still have a choice and – it's not like they can take it away from me.

"If you play for a country and then either change nationality or whatever, or if you don't play for that country for three years, you still have a choice.

"I haven't played for anyone since the end of 2011 in the World Cup (when he represented Ireland in China along with fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell). Obviously, going into the Olympics, that'll be five years, so I'll still have a choice."

Coe is content enough to go along with Rory on that.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "I don't play golf, but I am a golf enthusiast. I'm also an Olympian and I'm passionate about the Games and I want to see Rory competing in the Olympics.

"As Chairman of the British Olympic Association I will support any group that he wants to play for, I just hope he is there."

Asked, given his role with the British team, if he would prefer to see Rory at the opening ceremony in Rio wearing a Team GB tracksuit, Coe diplomatically added: "I'm not going to put any pressure on him. I'm a competitor and I know what pressure is like. I don't need to put that on him.

"My counterpart in Dublin would support me if he were standing here. We will let Rory make his mind up and we will support whatever decision he makes."

Another decision sure to interest Coe is who will replace Rafael Benitez as the next manager of his beloved Chelsea. Does he want Jose Mourinho back? A resounding yes, with a beaming smile is the answer.

"Jose's special isn't he?" says Lord Coe, who adds: "Actually Rafa has done a very good job for us when you think that we are possibly heading towards a second European title in two years and the weekend win at Manchester United has set us up for the match against Spurs (tonight).

"I'll be there and hopefully with a bit of luck a win over them will cement a Champions League place."

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