Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Barry McGuigan: Excel? After a shaky start, the organisers certainly have

I have spent five days at the boxing and the atmosphere has been amazing. There's 10,000 packed into the Excel Arena every day and you can tell how much they are enjoying it.

I know the organisers came in for some criticism at the start of the event because of empty seats but they took action and you can see all the arenas have a terrific atmosphere. People just want to be part of the Olympics and they are delighted to have a ticket for any event, you're getting casual fans enjoying the events. London is a great place to be at the moment.

Not only have the events been great, but the way they have organised the traffic has been terrific as well. I have been able to drive in to the Excel without any bother. At the start of the week I was worried about the traffic so I took the train and going past the Olympic Park the sense of a special occasion was palpable but then I realised that the traffic is moving very smoothly.

My main focus has been on the boxing and being in the arena has been great. I managed to get to see Michael Conlan (pictured) and I thought he was very classy, he boxed beautifully and now he has a great chance of getting a medal. He faces the dangerous Nordine Oubaali next.

Conlan has beaten this guy twice before, but the French man has improved and it will be a tough fight but I can see Conlan stepping up and getting at least a bronze.

There have been some poor decisions at the boxing but if you look back at the last five or six Olympics you are always going to get that — there are 250 contests and five judges every time. But the slightly worrying thing for me is the bias towards the GB boxers. I just hope when we get to the medal stages that there are not any poor decisions because these kids have been working four years for this.

Looking at the atmosphere for the kayaking, the fencing, the shooting and the rowing it does show you that people are interested in a lot of different sports but of course you have to remember that it is the Olympics.

But there is a real feel-good factor and people are loving it.

Now a successful trainer, Barry McGuigan represented Ireland at the Moscow Olympics in 1980 and went on to become World Featherwight Champion

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