Hometown celebrates John Joe Nevin's boxing silver
Boxing champ John Joe Nevin may be bringing home a silver medal, but it is as good as gold to his family.
The Mullingar man made history in his hometown as its first ever Olympic boxing medallist, with his proud parents dubbing him a local legend.
"Words can't describe how much pride I'm feeling right now," said his father Martin Nevin, in a packed pub on the outskirts of his hometown.
"He's bringing home a silver medal, but that silver is golden to me."
Crowds of family and friends packed The Covert pub, near the small Westmeath town. They roared and chanted John Joe's name as he went toe to toe with Great Britain's Luke Campbell.
Just a few miles away in the town centre, thousands poured into the local supermarket car park to watch the fight on a big screen. The town, decked out with bunting, posters and flags in honour of the local hero, swelled with pride, as supporters danced and whooped in celebration.
The boxer now joins One Direction star Niall Horan and The Voice of Ireland judge Bressie as Mullingar's most famous exports.
John Joe's mother Winnie Nevin said she knew her son enjoyed himself in the ring. "He said before the fight tonight that he was going into the ring to have fun," said Mrs Nevin. "He knew he was guaranteed at least silver so that relaxed him. He always makes it look so easy."
Mrs Nevin, who was surrounded by family and friends as she watched the fight anxiously, said she was more nervous than he was. "Every time he goes into the ring, I get a thousand butterflies. Tonight was no different. My only fear is that he'll get hurt. But he loves it - and it shows," she said.
Meanwhile, President Michael D Higgins described John Joe's win as outstanding. "John Joe has touched all of us this week with his positive attitude, remarkable skill and great courage in the ring," said Mr Higgins. "This is a wonderful result for John Joe, his family and friends - and all those around the country and elsewhere, who have enjoyed his success and sublime boxing skills."