Belfast Telegraph

Rory McIlroy: I don't know the words to Irish or British anthem - I don't feel a connection to either flag

By Claire Williamson

Rory McIlroy has told how he pulled out of the 2016 Rio Olympics because didn't feel a connection to either the Irish or British flag - and how he resents the organisation for making him choose.

The Holywood golfing star had the choice to play for either Team Ireland or Great Britain and chose Ireland after a lengthy deliberation process.

However the four-time Major tournament winner withdrew expressing fears of the Zika virus.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent McIlroy said he "resents" the Olympics for forcing him to make a decision.

"All of a sudden it put me in a position where I had to question who I am? Who am I? Where am I from? Where do my loyalties lie? Who am I going to play for? Who do I not want to piss off the most.

"I started to resent it and I do. I resent the Olympics Games because of the position it put me in, that's my feelings towards it, and whether that's right or wrong, it's how I feel."

McIlroy said he exchanged texts with Englishman Justin Rose who triumphed at the games. He said had he been taking part he would have felt "uncomfortable" either way.

He said: "I sent Justin Rose a text after he won, I think I still have the message: 'I'm happy for you, mate. I saw how much it means to you. Congratulations.

"He said: 'Thanks very much. All the boys here want to know do you feel like you missed out?'

"I said: 'Justin, if I had been on the podium (listening) to the Irish national anthem as that flag went up, or the British national anthem as that flag went up, I would have felt uncomfortable either way.

"I don't know the words to either of them; I don't feel a connection to either flag; I don't want it to be about flags; I've tried to stay away from that."

He added: "Not everyone is (driven by) nationalism and patriotism and that's never been me, because I felt like I grew up in a place where I wasn't allowed to be. It was suppressed.

"I'm very conflicted because I'm a Catholic and I turned on the TV at home and it was the BBC; I did my GCSEs; I used pounds sterling, stuff like that.

"So I'm a Catholic but I feel very much Northern Irish, and I never wanted it to get political or about where I'm from, but that's what it turned into. And it just got to the point where it wasn't worth the hassle."

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