Tipperary super-heavyweight Dean Gardiner lost out in his bid to qualify for Rio 2016 at the World Olympic qualifiers in Baku, Azerbaijan today.
The Clonmel BC man was beaten by Italy’s Guido Vianello on a unanimous decision in the 91kg+ final. Only the gold medal winner in the super-heavy class in the Azeri capital qualifies for August’s Olympics.
The Italian, who was beaten by Gardiner in the European Games in Baku last year, employed his jab to greater effect – although Gardiner’s shots were cleaner in the first – to take the first two rounds to lead 20-18 on all cards going into the final frame.
Gardiner won the last stanza 10-9 on all cards, but the Irish champion needed a TKO, KO or 10-7 round to reverse the deficit, and while he rocked Vianello with a big right close to the final bell the Azzurri super-heavy saw out the fight.
Michael O’Reilly won gold without throwing a punch this morning. The Portlaoise BC middleweight, who qualified for Rio courtesy of finishing in the top five in the 75kg class, claimed the top prize on a walkover at the expense Turkmenistan’s Arslan Achilov.
O’Reilly, ranked No.2 in the World at 75kg, was probably glad of the break this morning as he won four fights since last Monday – and only dropped one round in twelves frames of boxing – en route to the decider.
Eight Irish boxers – O’Reilly, Katie Taylor, Paddy Barnes, Brendan Irvine, Michael Conlan, David Oliver Joyce, Steven Donnelly and Joe Ward have qualified for Rio.
Thirteen – ten men and three women – is the maximum amount of boxers a nation can qualify for each Olympics.
Ireland will be aiming to improve to nine qualified in Vargas, Venezuela next month. Mayo light-welter Ray Moylette lines out in Latin America. A top three finish will suffice in the light-welter class in the final qualifier.
Team Ireland is due to arrive home at 9.50am on Sunday morning, June 26th, via Dublin Airport. – Flight TK 1975 via Istanbul (Terminal 1).
All media are invited to attend Sunday’s homecoming.
Irish Draw Baku Olympic qualifiers
91kg Darren O’Neill (Ireland) beat Mustafa El Molla (Sweden) 3-0
64kg Dean Walsh (Ireland) lost to Smetov Ismetov (Bulgaria) 0-3
91kg+ Dean Gardiner beat Satish Kumar (India) 2-1
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Ireland) beat Vitalia Bandarenka (Belarus) 3-0 (last 32)
91kg Darren O’Neill (Ireland) lost to Wesley Apochi (Nigeria) 0-3 (last 16)
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Ireland) beat Shinebayor Narmandakh (Mongolia) 3-0
91+kg Dean Gardiner (Ireland) beat Viktor Vychryst (Ukraine) 3-0
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Ireland) beat Kamran Shakhsuvarly (Azerbaijan) 3-0
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Ireland) beat Waheed Abdulridha Waheed (Iraq) W/O
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) lost to Alexei Zavatin (Moldova) 0-3
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Ireland) beat Arslan Achilov (Turkmenistan) W/O
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) lost to Guido Vianello (Italy) 0-3
64kg (Light-welter) Dean Walsh (St Josephs/St Ibars)
75kg (Middleweight) Michael O’Reilly (Portlaoise) (Qualified for Rio 2016 and Gold)
91kg (Heavyweight) Darren O’Neill (Paulstown)
91kg + (Super-heavy) Dean Gardiner (Clonmel) (Silver).
Team manager Joe Hennigan
Coaches: Zaur Antia and Eddie Bolger
Performance Analyst Alan Swanton
Sports Psychologist: Gerry Hussey