Silver medal for disappointed Egan

Ireland’s Kenny Egan had to settle for a silver medal at the Workers’ Gymnasium today.

Ireland’s Kenny Egan had to settle for a silver medal at the Workers’ Gymnasium today.

He was defeated in his Olympic light-heavyweight final 11-7 to Chinese favourite Xiaoping Zhang.

Egan was always chasing the contest after Zhang edged into a two-point lead at the end of the first round and was never able to level matters, staying two points adrift heading into the final round.

Veteran southpaw Egan desperately tried to redress the balance but left himself open for Zhang to extend his lead.

At the final bell, a disconsolate Egan slumped to the canvas.

Egan insisted he was not worried by the scoring system in the bout, but admitted it had been hard to adjust to the different points awarded throughout the Games.

"The score's the score and I still get a medal," he said. "The whole games have been great and a silver is still brilliant.

"Over the past two weeks I don't think anyone's appreciated how hard it's been. Shoulder slaps get scored.

"All I could do was get in there and box."

Coach Billy Walsh added: "You've got to keep working, hunt down every point, which isn't Kenny's game. He needs to get ahead early on."

The atmosphere was electric inside the Egan home as dozens of supporters crammed inside to cheer on their hero.

Tables groaned under the weight of food and drink as more than 100 neighbours, friends and family came to watch the local man in his biggest battle so far.

Despite the frayed nerves as Egan went two points down early on, there were shouts of “Come on Kenny, ya boyo” and “Get in there son and do the business” as the fight went on.

The crowd burst into rapturous applause after the final round and chanted his name.

His mother Maura came in from the back garden when she was sure it was over and her first thought was for her son’s wellbeing.

“Is he OK?” she asked. “Is that a cut on his head?

“Hold me back, I’m going to China,” she laughed.

The crowds spilled onto the road as proud father Paul praised his son: “He’s done us all proud, the whole of Ireland.

“We’ve had great support and we’re looking forward to having him home big time.”

Champagne corks popped and the cheering crowd was sprayed as the party to celebrate Kenny’s remarkable achievement got underway.

Gerard Fleming, head coach at Neilstown Boxing Club, said his star pupil had achieved something special.

“I’m feeling good for him,” he said.

“There’s not many clubs who can say they have an Olympic medallist and we’re very proud of him.”

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