Seb Coe: McIlroy’s Olympic decision is his and his alone

The double Olympic gold medallist believes the Irish golfer should make his own call on what country he represents in Rio 2016

Chairman of the British Athletic Association Lord Coe with President of the Olympic Council of Ireland Pat Hickey, Minister of State for Transport Tourism and Sport Michael Ring TD and sculptor Paul Ferriter at the unveiling of sculpture of the London 2012 Olympic Torch. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Chairman of the British Athletic Association Lord Coe with President of the Olympic Council of Ireland Pat Hickey, Minister of State for Transport Tourism and Sport Michael Ring TD and sculptor Paul Ferriter at the unveiling of sculpture of the London 2012 Olympic Torch. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Wed, May 8, 2013, 02:00

Three years to Rio and Rory McIlroy’s Olympic marathon doesn’t look like flagging. Even the intervention of a Lord yesterday could not ease the flag issue for the world number two golfer. McIlroy’s choice of nationality for a few weeks in 2016 continues to be far from simple.

The view has swung back in to the golfer’s lap and Seb Coe, a double 1,500 metre Olympic gold medal winner and the face of London 2012 believes McIlroy should be allowed make the decision himself. He expects to see McIlroy competing in Rio.

Last year the 24-year-old McIlroy expressed an interest in representing Britain but in January of this year was considering the options of playing for Britain or Ireland or not playing at all.

“Play for one side or the other – or not play at all because I may upset too many people . . . Those are my three options I’m considering very carefully,” said McIlroy.

Last month Royal and Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson added more opinion saying that his organisation would determine what country McIlroy represented. That intervention drew a swift reply from McIlroy saying that he would decide. Coe fully supported that view yesterday.

Ultimate say
“It is very important that Rory has the ultimate say on where and how he plays and I can say this without even having this conversation with Pat (Hickey, Olympic Council of Ireland president) that we are both of the view that it is up to him to decide and we will abide by what decision he makes,” said Coe, who was in Dublin to present Ireland’s five Olympic medal winners with commerative International Olympic Committee pins.

“I am an Olympian and I want to see the best athletes of their generation in Olympic sports competing so I just want to see him there. I don’t have a personal choice here. The athletes have the personal choice.”

The option of a neutral Olympic flag doesn’t appear to be an option for the Holywood man to side step the issue and it was pointed out that rowers and hockey players had made similarly hard calls on what team they represented in London with few dissenting voices. Several sided with Britain, the others Ireland. Keeping it simple is close to Coe’s thinking.

Hypothetical
“I think we’re going into hugely hypothetical areas. It is hypothetical because you’re asking me about a judgment that has still to be made,” he added.

“I haven’t spoken to Rory McIlroy nor would I. That would not be the appropriate thing. Let him make his judgment and then, as and when he decides what he wants to do, we will then figure out and support and figure it all out. It’s really not that complicated. I don’t really want to add any more issues to it. It’s actually quite straightforward. He will make a judgment, and whatever judgment he makes we will support.”

Katie Taylor had no such decisions to make last summer. The opening ceremony flag bearer at London is back in the ring following an injury scare to her left hand, where she thought she had broken a bone before scans revealed there was no fracture.

Just back from a week’s warm weather training in Spain, the lightweight gold medal winer’s path towards this summer’s European Union Championships in Hungary has cleared. In Marbella, she was again back in the ring sparring with men, this time 63 kg Michael Rooney, who is to make his debut professional fight this week.“Yeah it’s great. It’s the first time I’ve been able to have impact on my left hand without any pain,” she said yesterday after receiving an OCI Medal of Honour.