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Golden boy Michael Conlan targets top of world

By Bernard O'Neill

Michael Conlan is determined to ensure that his first gold medal won't be his last.

"It wasn't my best performance (Saturday's final), but it was my best performance at the tournament. I'm delighted to have won the gold medal as I won silver at the last European Championships," said the Belfast bantam, who was named boxer of the tournament.

"I'm going for the gold in Doha. I want to be the first Irish male boxer to win a World Elite title and I'm confident I can do that."

If Conlan does win World Elite gold, he'll have qualified for the same Olympics twice, given that so many roads have been opened up to Rio 2016.

Joe Ward also has his sights firmly set on competing in the 31st Olympiad.

"Getting to the Olympics has always been my dream and that will be my target at the World Championship, although it is going to be very tough," he said.

The Irish squad will work out in Dublin and in Italy before heading for Doha.

Head coach Billy Walsh said: "Winning two gold medals and a bronze, the Best Boxer award and finishing in the second spot in the medals table is a phenomenal achievement, considering we had such a small squad.

"The target was to qualify four for Doha and we achieved that, despite a really tough draw.

"Doha will be an even bigger test. With Olympic places on the line, the competition will be absolutely fierce."

Just 23 Olympic places will be available across the 10 weight classes in Doha.

Conlan added: "To be honest, I don't think I boxed well at all until the final. I only had two weeks hard training and I had to drop six kilos but I was determined to go all the way. I have this presence about me now, this feeling I am going to win gold wherever I box.

"The World Championships are my next target and I will be in much better shape for them.

"To win European gold is very special as some of the competition is harder than the Olympics and not many Irish boxers have done it.

"My mate Paddy Barnes has been keeping me going about him winning gold and I only had European silver - well he can shut up now."

Conlan had reached the final by seeing off Francesco Maietta by another unanimous decision in the semi-final, having defeated Denmark's Frederick Jensen in the last eight to guarantee a place at the World Championships in Qatar in October.

Conlan won silver in the flyweight division at the 2013 Euros and was adamant that Ashfaq would not deny him gold.

He added: "I felt from the start I was in control and even though the second round was closer I knew I had won it.

"Then in the last round I produced some of my best work - I felt I was cruising and the gold was mine. It feels great."

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