Comedian Colm O’Regan’s tweet summed up Rio for many Irish viewers yesterday: “Annalise Murphy doing well so far, although according to one of the boxing judges, she’s fallen off her horse.”
It was that kind of day — while Annalise calmly busied herself winning our first Olympic sailing medal in 36 years, our last remaining boxer, Michael Conlan, was so incensed by his controversial defeat that, by last night, he was sending shots across the bow to Vladimir Putin.
“Hey Vlad @PutinRE-Eng How much did they charge you bro?” he tweeted to Putin’s official Twitter channel.
Hey Vlad @PutinRF_EngAugust 16, 2016
Earlier in the day, Patrick Barnes, father of Olympic boxer Paddy Barnes, told Joe Harrington of website Joe.ie that the Russians had told them in advance Conlan would lose to Vladimir Nikitin.
“We knew coming here this morning, the Russians told us that Michael wasn’t going to get the contest. They told us that themselves. And we knew,” said Mr Barnes.
While the claims were labelled “explosive”, it was hard to ignore the possibility that it may have been just plain fightin’ talk.
The fightin’ talk from the Belfast bantamweight when all three judges voted against him on their scorecards was a million miles from the decorum of the National Yacht Club, where family, friends, and supporters gathered to cheer on Annalise.
In a furious outburst, Conlan told RTÉ: “That’s me, I’ll never box for AIBA again, they’re cheating bastards, they’re paying everybody.”
For good measure, he added: “Amateur boxing stinks from the core right to the top.”
As the controversy over a number of questionable Russian boxing wins grew last night, the International Boxing Association said it was striving for a level playing field, and Russian officials said boxers should show “dignity in defeat”, a clear reference to Conlan. An AIBA spokesman said Conlan was a champion who came to Rio with high expectations and was understandably disappointed to have lost.
“Afterwards, it’s his personal judgement,” said Igor Kazikov, head of the Russian delegation at the Games. “All I can say is that AIBA is striving for a fair level playing field. The idea is not to benefit one country towards another, we represent 200 national federations. These statements are groundless but he’s free to have his opinion.
“The Russians are constantly being accused of something. Let’s deal with these things in a dignified way.”
Statements issued in relation to Annalise’s silver medal win — after completing 10 races in the Women’s Laser Radial in five days of competition — were congratulatory rather than inflammatory.
President Michael D Higgins said she had “travelled the long and hard road to the Olympics” , having narrowly lost out in London, and has now “reaped the rewards of her many years of preparation and hard work”. Taoiseach Enda Kenny also paid tribute.
As for Annalise herself? She told RTÉ she “didn’t think I was going to be in this position a few months ago, I was sailing very badly”. She said she didn’t know whether she was “laughing or crying”.
That pretty much summed up the day for everyone.
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