Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Ireland celebrate boxing successes

Katie Taylor, pictured, led Ireland's boxers to four podium finishes at the Olympics

Katie Taylor's historic gold medal capped an excellent London Olympics for Ireland's boxing team as she was joined by John Joe Nevin and Belfast pair Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan on the podium.

Taylor capped her career by adding an Olympic title to the four world crowns she has already won, cutting a swathe through the lightweight competition as women's boxing made its thunderous Olympic debut.

The brilliant, clever Mullingar man Nevin looked a contender not only for gold but for the prestigious Val Barker Trophy for best boxer of the tournament as he eased his way into the bantamweight final against Great Britain's Luke Campbell.

Campbell, who had edged past Nevin on countback in last year's World Championship semi-finals in Baku, proved just too clever once again as he pulled out a 14-11 win to take gold, leaving Nevin with the solace of an excellent silver.

Barnes met China's Shiming Zou in the semi-final and produced a scintillating display, dropping the verdict on countback to the eventual gold medallist.

Meanwhile, Conlan became Ireland's fourth boxing medallist when he took bronze at flyweight having found the simply sensational Cuban Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana too hot to handle in a comprehensive 20-10 defeat.

Away from the boxing ring, Cian O'Connor capped a remarkable story of redemption by winning bronze in the individual showjumping final.

The 32-year-old from Kildare won gold in Athens in 2004 but was subsequently stripped when his horse Waterford Crystal failed a drugs test, and ironically only got his chance in London because team-mate Denis Lynch was withdrawn.

Even then O'Connor had to squeeze into the final, seizing his chance when Swedish rival Rolf Goran Bengtsson's horse failed a vet test, and going on to lay to rest the ghosts of Athens by returning to the Olympic podium.

Dublin's Annalise Murphy suffered the agony of finishing fourth in the Laser Radial sailing category, and Rob Heffernan produced an heroic performance to also come fourth in the men's 50km walk, while the Olympics finished on a high for modern pentathlete Natalya Coyle, who achieved the best result of her career with ninth place.

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