Michael Carruth has raised the stakes for Ireland’s Olympic boxers by stating that anything less than a gold medal this summer will rank as ‘a failure’.
Irish boxers have won 12 of this country’s 23 Olympic medals but only one – Carruth’s in Barcelona in 1992 – has been gold and the former Army man believes that statistic must change this summer.
“If we don’t win an Olympic gold medal this year, it’s a failure. I’m putting my old buddy, Billy Walsh, under pressure there but it’s 20 years since I won at the Olympic Games. We need to be winning at the Olympic Games in boxing — be it the male version or female version.
“Now, I don’t want to be putting pressure on them but they have been fully funded for the last ten years with the High Performance (programme). We’ve shown at the Europeans and the Worlds and things like that, that we’re capable of winning medals.
“Now we need to go to the next stage. Go to the Holy Grail and produce it. I’m privileged to be the first, I don’t want to be the last.
“That’s the God’s honest truth. We need to produce another gold medallist.”
The Irish ring contingent returned from Beijing four years ago with three medals. Kenny Egan claimed silver while the late Darren Sutherland and Paddy Barnes earned bronze. However, Carruth believes the latest contingent is better.
Three boxers — John Joe Nevin, Michael Conlon and Darren O’Neill — have already qualified but Ireland will send another seven fighters to Turkey for the last of the qualifiers next month and hopeful that another two or three will join them.
Carruth believes Joe Ward, Barnes and Ross Hickey as those most likely to advance even though the last of those must face a Russian and Turk in his light-welterweight division.
“Any boxer that qualifies for Ireland has a chance. Nobody wants to draw an Irish boxer. We’ve gone totally professional, we’ve gone high performance, we produce medals. If we qualify six lads and two girls we’ll come home with medals.”
Katie Taylor will, obviously, lead the vanguard for the female fighters as they are welcomed into the Olympic family for the first time but the Bray woman will have to wait until May before booking her spot and Carruth is at a loss as to why.
“It’s terrible,” said Carruth who is involved as a massage therapist with Anthony Daly’s Dublin hurlers this season. “It’s too late. They should have been qualifying this month as well. I can’t understand the logic of this, injury-wise and in terms of peaking again. You have to peak in just six weeks again, and it’s not always easy doing it. They’ve run it a little bit shabbily in the girls department, they should be qualified now. Katie should be qualified for the Olympics now.”
Is the pressure on Katie Taylor too much?
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