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Steven Donnelly proud of achievements despite missing medal in Rio

By Pippa Field

Boxer Steven Donnelly insists he could hold his head high despite missing out on a medal at Rio 2016. Donnelly took to the ring on Saturday in the men's welterweight quarter-finals looking for one more victory which would guarantee him a medal.

Standing in his way was Morocco's Mohammed Rabii - a formidable opponent who won the world title in 2015.

And so he proved with the top seed enjoying a strong opening round to put him ahead with the judges before more solid punches in the second just maintained the Moroccan's advantage with the two of the three judges.

Donnelly was also knocked down twice in the third round - those blows snuffing out any chances of victory as the judges handed Rabii victory on a split decision.

But while disappointed to lose out in Rio, the experience was one that marked a turnaround in fortunes for Donnelly after he was sent home early from the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi before his life went into a downward spiral for the next two years with Ballymena's All Saints Boxing club coach Gerry Hamill helping him back into the sport and the Irish team.

"I gave it my all out there. I thought it was very close as well," said Donnelly.

"I can walk away from these Games proud. Nobody expected me to get this far; only myself, my club coaches, these lads here and the Irish coaches.

"This is the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games, against the current world No.1 and world champion.

"My whole nation is proud of me. I've done great, and I'll continue to do great in this sport.

"I'll only get better from here, no matter what I do.

"I'm actually not sure what I'm going to do now. I'd say these Olympic Games had done me no harm at all.

"My profile has been raised. I can stay amateur and see what the what the money is like. I can also see the pro game and see what happens."

There was also defeat for Brendan Irvine in the men's flyweight preliminaries on Saturday. The St Paul's, Belfast boxer was outclassed by Uzbekistan's Shakhobidin Zoirov, losing all three rounds on the judges' cards for a 3-0 reverse.

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