You'll always be our champ, family tells Paddy Barnes after shock early exit from Rio Olympics
The family of Paddy Barnes has vowed he will always be their champion following his shock defeat at the Olympics.
The Belfast boxer's dream of winning an Olympic gold medal has been shattered after he lost out to Spanish boxer Samuel Heredia Carmona yesterday.
Light-flyweight Barnes said after the bout that he had felt drained and had struggled to make the weight, ruling himself out of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
His partner Mari Burns, with whom he has a two-year-old daughter, said she was proud of Barnes. She posted a picture of the family on Twitter saying: "Our champ today, always & forever. We love you. Daddy's biggest fan - win, lose or draw.
"Proudest girls in the world."
Barnes, who was Ireland's Olympic flag-bearer, was hoping to win a third medal having taken bronze at the Beijing and London Games.
Hours after his devastating loss, the north Belfast man tweeted: "Weight killed me, can't fight at 49kg anymore, no energy at all today. 1st time making the weight since 2014. Fair play to Spanish lad."
Coach Gerry Storey, who trained Barnes, said he had struggled to make the weight.
"I thought it was a good, close fight and thought he could have got it. But Paddy is very unlucky on decisions, because at the last Olympics, in my book, he should have been gold medal winner," he said.
"To me he was robbed of that one. I think that's the last we'll be seeing of him in the light-flyweight division because it's been tough on him making the weight for the last few years.
"It's tough going for him. He had seven fights inside 10 weeks and he would have to make the weight every time he did that. I thought he could have made it, but at the same time making the weight was a strain for him."
The Holy Family Boxing Club head coach said he missed the fight after the electricity in his home went off moments before the opening bell.
"I saw bits of it online and from what I did see he lost the first round, but the second round I thought was an even fight," he said. "He will be gutted and he's very honest so he will tell you how he feels. Paddy is a winner no matter what he wants to do."
Barnes faced a barrage of abuse on social media. But a number of fans - including his team-mate Michael Conlan - rallied to his defence.
World champion boxer Carl Frampton - also from north Belfast - said he was "absolutely gutted" for his friend. "I know how much he wanted that and how much he's put in to these Olympics. Still a hero," he said.
Comedian Dara O'Briain also said: "Ah, that was ludicrously tight. Commiserations, it was a hell of a first round fight."
Conlan hit out at the critics, saying: "The fact some of you idiots on here giving Paddy Barnes stick is disgraceful, what he's done for the country is unbelievable."
He slammed the "keyboard warriors doing nothing with your lives but criticising him without a clue about boxing".