WELTERWEIGHT Roy Sheahan steps into the ring against Carl Hield (Bahamas) in Baku today admitting he is more “excited about these world championships than I have been about any other tournament in my life”.
Sheahan aims to build on Ireland’s winning start in Azerbaijan after Michael Conlan’s victory over European bronze medalist, Alexandr Riscan (Moldova) on Tuesday. The Irish camp is on a high after Conlan’s victory and IABA president Tommy Murphy, is adamant that this was just the start of what can be an amazing campaign.
Murphy said: “It is the start we needed to get some momentum going. Everyone is in excellent shape, the training camps have been very good and, as you can imagine, spirits are high after this.”
Four years ago when, on the back of a great run of form, Sheahan was alongside Kenny Egan, John Joe Joyce, David Oliver Joyce and the late Darren Sutherland as favourites to make Beijing. But a broken hand in training destroyed his Olympic dreams. With London 2012 looming, he is keen to make amends.
Sheahan beat clubmate, Beijing Olympian John Joe Joyce; national champion Adam Nolan and the talented Portlaoise teenager, Michael O’Reilly to book his place in these championships. But qualification isn’t the end of the road.
“It’s been a long road — those last three or four years — with plenty of ups and downs but thankfully it has turned around. I’m 27 so I have to give it a big shot. Hopefully it will turn out well. I have been training hard and everything is going well. I have not boxed like this for a few years and I’ve had a great run. I am putting in the proper training and effort. I don’t have that many years left in this game so I want to make the most of it.
“My coach, Dom O’Rourke, gave me a lot of encouragement in the club. He was believing in me — telling me each day that I could do it — and that helped a lot. He gave me the proper sparring. The coaches in High Performance, Billy (Walsh) and Zaur (Antia), kept all that going.
“Four years ago I won the EU championships in Dublin and I went over to Chicago expecting to do something special. I did very well over there, had a couple of very good wins but got beaten in the end.
“I came back then in good form and ready for the (Olympic) qualifiers but I broke my hand and that ended that.
“That time it was not meant to be — this time around it’s different. I am a wiser and a better man at this stage.
“I am more excited about these world championships than I have ever been about any other tournament in my life. Hopefully London 2012 beckons.
“That’s an extra incentive to do well.”
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