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Sunday 25 September 2016

Lowry is left 'bitterly disappointed' as he pulls out of Rio over Zika fears

Shane Lowry with his wife Wendy Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/SPORTSFILE
Shane Lowry with his wife Wendy Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/SPORTSFILE

Irish star Shane Lowry is the latest golfer to pull out of the Olympics due to concerns about the Zika virus.

Lowry (29), who recently finished runner-up in the US Open, said that to represent Ireland at the Games in Brazil would risk his family's health. He withdrew seven days after fellow Irishman Rory McIlroy withdrew for the same reason.

Lowry, who recently married, said he had been given "firm medical advice" not to travel to Brazil.

The Zika virus can cause birth defects in babies.

The golfer said he was "bitterly disappointed" not to be travelling to Rio with the rest of the Irish Olympic team.

"Myself and my management team have been closely monitoring the Zika virus situation in South ­America for the past number of months," Lowry said.

"Based on a number of consultations with leading medical experts in recent days, I feel I would be putting my family's health at risk by being in Brazil at this time.

"Wendy [his wife] and I have just recently been married and we hope to be lucky enough to have a family in the near future," he added.

The Offalyman said he took great pride in representing Ireland and hoped he would be able to do so again in the near future.

Proud

"I am a very proud Irishman and I love my country," he said.

"I will work hard to be in a position to qualify to compete for Ireland again at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in four years' time."

Lowry's omission from the Olympics means that three-time major winner ­Padraig Harrington will be the highest ranked Irish golfer at the tournament - with Seamus Power, the next highest ranked, set to vie for his own qualification on July 11.

A host of golfers across the world have pulled out of the Games.

It will be the first time the sport has been represented at the Olympics.

The world number one, Australian Jason Day, withdrew yesterday morning, while Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Mark Leishman have also decided not to travel.

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