IRISH Amateur Boxing Association President Dom O’Rourke arrived home from the London 2012 Olympic Games a happy man on Monday, writes Ruth Chambers.
Dom, from Athy Boxing Club, witnessed the Irish team take home a gold, a silver and two bronze medals at what was Irish boxing’s most successful Games ever. Indeed the last time Ireland collected five medals at an Olympic Games was way back in 1956 in Melbourne.
Katie Taylor, John Joe Nevin, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon all came away with medals and O’Rourke heaped praise on the high performance unit and in particular coaches Billy Walsh and Zaur Antia.
“The past two weeks have been fantastic for Irish boxing. It has been great for sport and the country as a whole,” O’Rourke told the Leinster Leader.
“The High Performance gives Irish boxers the chance to be the best on a world stage and that’s exactly what we are. Billy Walsh and Zaur (Antia) have been fantastic. In Zaur we have one of the best technical coaches in the world and we need to keep them there,” added the Athy man.
O’Rourke was quick to heap praise on the clubs who produced the London 2012 stars and the clubs, including a number in Kildare, who continue to produce boxers for the High Performance Unit from youth level to senior.
“There is serious boxing talent in clubs throughout Ireland and without clubs we wouldn’t have successes like London,” insisted the IABA President.
“Hopefully this will give clubs a boast and the conveyor belt of talent keeps turning. Hopefully it will encourage more kids to take up boxing too,” added O’Rourke.
As boxing fever sweeps the country no doubt the likes Ryston, St Michael’s, St Brigid’s, St David’s, Kilcullen and The Curragh will see an influx of new young stars, all dreaming of becoming the next Taylor or Nevin.