Michael Conlan: ‘For my dream to be ripped away from me... was horrible’

Ireland’s Olympic team arrived in Dublin airport from Rio on Wednesday night

Ireland’s Olympic team arrive in Dublin airport on Wednesday night. Boxer Michael Conlan talks about his RTE interview following his controversial defeat in Rio, and team-mate Paddy Barnes comments on Michael O’Reilly's drugs test result.

 

An unrepentant Michael Conlan defended his expletive-laden outburst following his controversial Olympic boxing defeat as Team Ireland arrived home on Wednesday.

The Belfast boxer made global headlines when he excoriated judges and the International Boxing Association (AIBA) generally immediately after a questionable verdict in his loss against Russian rival Vladimir Nikitin.

Speaking to reporters at the homecoming in Dublin Airport, the bantamweight said he could take some satisfaction from the thought that his adverse experience might be a direct influence on changes to the scoring system ahead of the next Olympics in Tokyo.

“They [AIBA]can do what they want, I just spoke my mind and spoke the truth, and I’m happy with myself. I have no regrets at all. The only regret is not having an association that can pay enough money for us to win medals,” he remarked.

“One of the main reasons I did it was because I want no young athletes and no young boxers to go through what I went through.

“I dedicated 18 years of my life to boxing and for my dream to be ripped away from me the way it was, was horrible. If I can help boxing in the future I’ll be very, very happy,” he added.

He rejected suggestions that fellow fighter Michael O’Reilly’s positive doping test prior to the tournament caused a distraction for the entire boxing camp, a point echoed by teammate Paddy Barnes.

“We just got on with it. We’re a boxing team, we’re not here to worry about what other fighters are doing and whatever advantages we’re trying to gain, we’re there to fight,” Conlan said.

“It made no difference to my boxing him being there or not being there,” added Barnes, who made a disappointing exit in his debut bout against Spaniard Samuel Carmona Heredia.

Most athletes spoken to were reluctant to comment on the ticket touting debacle that engulfed the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) over the course of the Rio event, with 800m runner Mark English insisting that it had no effect on individual performances.

“We didn’t really focus on it to be honest. We were just entirely focussed on our own events. I think that’s what attention should be focused on here today,” he said.

Some of those present to cheer home the Irish competitors expressed exasperation about difficulties in trying to procure tickets. This proved an issue for Marie Gormley, mother of hockey international Ronan Gormley, who travelled out to the games to cheer on his team.

“We had a bit of trouble getting tickets in the beginning, but we got them… Each player got an allocation of two tickets, but it was quite complicated to get them so some people opted just to buy tickets on the internet themselves.

“Pro10 did charge us 20 per cent for the tickets that we bought off them,” she said, adding that tickets were generally available at affordable prices outside the different venues.

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