Boxing: Barnes stormer
Paddy leads way to Beijing
Published 25/11/2007 | 10:46
Boxer Paddy Barnes is one of the lucky few to have already secured a ticket to next summer's Olympics in Beijing.
The light-flyweight reached the quarter-finals of this month's World Amateur Championships in Chicago - enough to guarantee a place in Beijing.
The 20-year-old, originally from Ardglass but now boxing out of the Holy Family club, won three times in the Windy City before losing to the eventual world amateur champion, China's Shiming Zou, sure to be a huge star come August.
Next up for Barnes could be the defence of his Irish title in Dublin in January, while for other Olympic boxing hopefuls, qualifying tournaments in Italy and Greece in the New Year represent the last chance saloon.
For our potential Olympians in other sports, the next few months will see hopes and dreams realised - or shattered.
United States-based swimmer Andrew Bree, from Newtownards, is another with qualification in the bag, the 200m breaststroke maestro making the Olympic grade at the recent US Nationals in Indiana where he swam a new personal best time and Irish record of 2.13.14.
Swimmers Julie Douglas, currently training in Australia, and Melanie Nocher also have Olympic hopes.
Rower Alan Campbell is a genuine Gold Medal prospect.
The man from Coleraine has shown over the last few years that he is a match for the very best in the world in the single scull and he will be aiming to show that he is capable of producing the goods when the heat is really on in Beijing.
Apart from Campbell, Richard Archibald and Richard Chambers look set to be members of crews that will be challenging for medals, while Orlagh Duddy could make it into an Irish women's boat.
Enniskillen's Gavin Noble (26) looks a decent bet to earn a crack at the Olympic triathlon.
In cycling, David McCann and Philip Deignan could yet make it to Beijing, while in mountain biking Conor McConvey is hoping to get the nod from the Irish team.
In athletics, the cupboard is not quite bare.
Eva Massey, James McIlroy, Paul Brizzel, Paul McKee and Anna Boyle are just some of our local athletes who face a battle over the coming months to book their ticket.
In badminton, local hopes rest with Scott Evans and Chloe Magee, who will fancy their chances of making the Olympics next August.
The Yonex Irish International Championships, which take place in Lisburn from December 6 to 9, represent an excellent opportunity to secure ranking points towards Olympic qualification.
Evans is currently ranked 45th in the world - good enough for a slot in Beijing - while Magee is 74th.
There could yet be local representation in other events, such as Philip Murphy in shooting and Jessica Kuerten in showjumping, but a Northern Ireland contingent of around 10 competitors is expected.
Most will represent Ireland, a few Britain.
A medal, of any colour, would be a huge achievement.