Flame not gone out for Ward yet

The bid to rekindle Joe Ward’s Olympic flame is far from over after IABA officials spent yesterday in Trabzon winning support to get the Moate teenager to London 2012.

The President of the Olympic Council of Ireland, Pat Hickey, will look at the interpretation of the relevant rule that allows “weaker” countries or Federations to put forward unqualified athletes for entry into the Games.

What qualifies a nation as “weaker”, however, is under scrutiny. Ward would tick all the other boxes — he has gone through the qualifying tournaments, is currently ranked among the top three light heavyweights in the world and there is a vacancy available at that weight.

But when it goes before the Tripartite Commission they will likely refer it to the world governing body, AIBA.

“It would appear that Ireland would not qualify under the rule as Ireland could not be considered as one of the weaker nations by any stretch of the imagination,” a spokesman for the Olympic Council of Ireland said yesterday.

Joe Ward’s immediate Olympic future could well depend on his interpretation of the relevant rule.

“I have no doubt that Pat [Hickey] will examine the rule in depth when he gets back to Ireland on Friday and I have no doubt that he will go to all ends if he feels that there is even a glimmer of hope for Joe Ward.”

The boxer has been staying fit and got back into training mode yesterday.

“We were out running this morning,” his trainer, Eddie Bolger, said. “He is still very focused and I think he has put much of what has happened aside.

“I think the fact that he is so young helped. He is only starting out on what I’m sure will be an exciting career. But I know that as long as there is any glimmer of hope Joe will stay focused and continue to work hard. I have a good feeling about this.”

This week, in Moscow, Hickey was elected Vice President of NOC, the body that represents all the National Olympic Committees worldwide and he is virtually certain to be elected onto the IOC’s Executive Committee in London next July.

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