Seven members of the Irish 2016 Olympic boxing team travel to Rio early this evening on the final lap of a journey which has taken Irish boxing through three continents battling against the world’s finest for tickets at the 31st Olympiad.
Paddy Barnes, Brendan Irvine, Michael Conlan, David Oliver Joyce, Steven Donnelly, Michael O’Reilly and Joe Ward fly out today with Irish management and staff. The flight leaves at 5.55pm (Terminal 1 via Frankfurt) The squad will arrive in Dublin Airport at approximately 3.15- 3.45pm this afternoon.
Male boxing begins on August 6.
Defending Olympic lightweight champion Katie Taylor joins the squad in Rio in early August. Female boxing begins on August 12.
Click here for schedule.
Team Ireland have a final training camp lined up for Rio with a number of nations, including the host nation, before entering the Olympic village on July 29.
Team manager Joe Hennigan believes the squad are well capable of finishing in podium positions.
He said: “All preparations have gone very well and the team are more than ready. I think this is a great team of eight boxers. I believe it’s a team that is capable of winning medals from these Olympic Games.
“They’ve all proven themselves at the very top level in the past, winning medals in Olympic,World, European, European Games and European Union competition and winning in the World Series of Boxing and AIBA Boxing.
“It’s a team packed with international experience and every one of them is capable of bringing home a medal.”
The Irish team manager added that they will take the first opportunity they get to visit the 9,000 capacity Pavilion 6 venue for boxing when in Rio.
“That’s something we always do at major tournaments and as soon as the opportunity arises in Rio we’ll take the squad to the tournament venue to let them get the feel of the place.”
Meanwhile, Paddy Barnes leads out Team Ireland at what is expected to be a spectacular Opening Ceremony for Rio 2016 at the Maracana football stadium on August 5.
The Belfast light-flyweight, the only Irish boxer to qualify for three Olympics, is the 7th Irish boxer to be selected as Team Ireland flag bearer since heavyweight Matt Flanagan (Garda BC) at Amsterdam 1928.
“I’m extremely proud to be selected as flag bearer for Ireland at the Rio Olympics,” said the Holy Family BC man.
Barnes follows in the footsteps of Katie Taylor who was Team Ireland flag bearer at London 2012.
286 boxers – 250 males and 36 females – compete at each Olympics.
Three professional boxers have also qualified for Rio, marking the first time that pro fighters will compete at the Olympics in the history of the sport.
Irish 2016 Olympic Boxing Squad
49kg Paddy Barnes (Holy Family)
52kg Brendan Irvine (St Paul’s)
56kg Michael Conlan (Clonard)
60kg Katie Taylor (Bray)
60kg David Oliver Joyce (St Michael’s Athy & AIBA Pro Boxing)
69kg Steven Donnelly (All Saints)
75kg Michael O’Reilly (Portlaoise)
81kg Joe Ward (Moate & AIBA Pro Boxing)
Team manager: Joe Hennigan
Coaches: Zaur Antia, Eddie Bolger, John Conlan
Physio: Julianne Ryan
Ireland’s (Boxing) flag bearers at the Olympics
2016 Paddy Barnes
2012 Katie Taylor
1996 Francie Barrett
1988 Wayne McCullough
1968 Jim McCourt
1956 Tony Byrne
1928 Matt Flanagan