Ireland win first Beijing medal

Irish boxer Paddy Barnes is guaranteed at least an Olympic bronze medal after his victory at the Worker's Indoor Arena in Beijing today.

Irish boxer Paddy Barnes is guaranteed at least an Olympic bronze medal after his victory at the Worker's Indoor Arena in Beijing today.

Today's win is the first medal that Ireland has won at the 29th Olympiad in any sport.

The Holy Family Belfast man beat Polish fighter Lukasz Maszczyk by 11 points to five in the light flyweight quarter-final.

He will now meet Shiming Zou in the semi finals on Friday after the reigning world champion beat Birzhan Zhakypov from Kazakhstan 9-4 in the corresponding quarter-final.

Barnes restored parity twice in the first round of today's contest, levelling twice with stiff rights to leave the bout locked at 2-2 at the bell, before taking the second round 7-5 after leading 7-3 at one stage following some furious exchanges midway through the round.

Maszczyk knew he had to produce something big in the third - his tactics of dancing around with his hands down were clearly not working as Barnes was stepping right into the danger zone to pick off his shots - but once again it was the Belfast man who took the frame, leading 9-5 going into the final two minutes.

The Pole upped the tempo in the fourth, but Barnes responded in magnificent fashion, adding another two points to his total to claim Ireland's 10th medal in the boxing ring since another Belfast man, bantamweight John McNally, won silver at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki.

It was a stunning performance from the 21 year old, who is the fifth boxer from the Holy Family club in Belfast to compete at the Olympic Games.

Irish captain Ken Egan, from the Neilstown club in Dublin, will be in the ring at around 2.15pm (Irish time) this afternoon for a last-eight meeting with Brazilian light heavyweight Washington Silva.

Victory for the Dubliner would also guarantee bronze - and could set up an Ireland versus England Olympic 81Kg semi final as Tony Jeffries, who Egan beat in last June's EU final in Poland, faces Hungary's Imre Szello on the other side of the draw.

Middleweight Darren Sutherland, of the St Saviours club in Dublin, will be in quarter-final action tomorrow versus Alfonso Blanco from Venezuela.

The boxing event at the 29th Olympiad will conclude with five finals next Saturday and six finals on Sunday.

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