BERNARD DUNNE may no longer be the WBA world super bantamweight champion but he is still Dublin’s favourite son and if he wanted reassurance, he got it at Dublin City Hall yesterday when he was given a standing ovation by representatives of more than 200 sporting organisations from around the city.
He was chosen from a galaxy of stars from all the major sports to be the main speaker when Dublin Lord Mayor Eimer Costelloe, announced that Dublin had been chosen as the European Capital of Sport 2010 and will take over the mantle from Milan in February.
Dunne was not talking about Saturday night’s defeat at the hands of Poonsawat Kratingaenggym, or his future for that matter — that’s all for another day — but he admitted that he had made what he described as “a big decision” to turn out so early after the fight. “This is all about Dublin and there is no way I was going to miss out on it,” he said. “We all know what happened on Saturday but today is about Dublin and I am a true blue at heart and I wanted to be a part of it.
“It is a bit emotional. It was a big decision coming here today but given what it is all about, I just could not pass.
“We want to encourage as many people as possible to get involved in sport. We want to get the government to keep investing in sport. There are so many young kids coming through that once they have been given that opportunity — and it’s about being given that opportunity — it’s about talent being nurtured.
“We have a great gathering of sporting heroes here today — you look at the likes of David Gillick, Curtis Fleming and Katie Taylor. The list goes on. There is so much sporting talent in this country, given the opportunities we can compete with anybody on a sporting level,” he added.
Taylor may have achieved the perfect 10 when she came through the European championships without conceding a point but the multiple world and European champion still wants to improve.
“You never know who is going to come up, the Chinese are a great boxing nation and the Russians are always good so you can’t afford to take your foot off the pedal,” she said.
At the moment she is on a break and that includes participating in Ireland’s upcoming women’s world cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Russia.
She also promised to play her part in promoting Dublin as the European Capital of Sport. “There is no city in the world like Dublin in the way it gets behind its athletes. The support they give the athletes is second to none.”
David Gillick finished a hectic and highly successful campaign at the World Athletics final in Thessalonika after fulfilling his ambition to break 45 seconds and make the final of the world championships and he, too, took time out to join in celebrating Dublin’s achievement in being awarded the accolade.
Next year he will be among the favourites for a medal, if not a gold medal, at the European championships in Barcelona.
But, in the meantime, he wants to make his own personal contribution to Dublin — European Capital of Sport 2010.
“The people that we have here today, the likes of Bernard Dunne, myself, get us involved with bringing the kids in, giving them tips and things like that — let them know that we are ordinary people who are willing to talk to them and to help them.
“I am sitting there in awe alongside Packie Bonner. I have a clip on my iPod that I watch before I run and it includes Packie saving that ‘peno’ and that gives me such a lift. That’s what it’s all about and I am sitting there and I don’t know what to say to him. I am afraid to open my mouth.
“But that’s what this is all about. Letting the kids know that, at the end of the day, we are normal human beings. I would like the kids to feel that they can get an email to me or approach me and I’d have no qualms about talking to them. I have a website, david gillick.com, and I can give them some tips, things that I have learned. It’s not gospel but it might help.”
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