Boxing coach Gerry Storey says witnessing his protegé Paddy Barnes taking gold at the Olympics would be “the icing on the cake” after a lifetime’s dedication to the sport.
The 76-year-old head trainer of Belfast’s Holy Family club also revealed he will be locking himself away for Barnes’ quarter-final fight against India’s Singh Laishram tomorrow evening — a ritual he sticks to for all big fights involving his boxers.
Gerry says he prefers to watch fights on his own in order to concentrate and take notes. He then calls his boxers afterwards with a list of what they did well and what they need to brush up on.
“Usually I watch the fights on my own,” he said. “Otherwise you get people talking to and asking you things and it’s hard to concentrate. It’s a closed-door policy,” he laughed. “No-one gets in and no-one gets out.”
Gerry said Barnes’ antics are serving to inspire young members to strive to be Olympians of the future.
And he is confident Barnes will return to Belfast clutching another addition for the famed ‘Paradise Row’ — the club’s roll of honour.
“I’m confident he can do it and go all the way,” said Storey.
“If he gets gold it would be the icing on the cake for everyone concerned. He is living the Olympic dream.”
Barnes’ mentor was back in Belfast yesterday to oversee the running of the popular club, but intends to return to London if the 25-year-old progresses to the latter stages of the competition.
Before Barnes takes to the ring, though, he will be cheering on team-mate and fellow Belfast fighter Michael Conlan who will be looking to add to fellow Ireland fighter John Joe Nevin’s haul.
Mullingar man Nevin will secure at least a bronze medal after winning his quarter-final clash on Sunday.
Conlan (20) beat Duke Micah of Ghana on Friday and faces France's Nordine Oubali in tonight’s quarter-final.
He said: “It was a tough fight with a lot of nerves building up all week and even trying to sleep at night wasn’t easy.
“Four years ago I was sat at home watching Paddy go crazy on the TV, telling them they could stick their bronze medal,” he added.
“I watched Paddy doing |brilliantly and I wanted to achieve the same things,” said Conlan.