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Sunday 11 December 2016

Zika won't stop my Olympics sailing dream, says Annalise

Olympic sailor Annalise Murphy
Olympic sailor Annalise Murphy
Olympic sailor Annalise Murphy in action

Proud Team Ireland Olympic sailor Annalise Murphy has said that making it to the Games in Rio was her dream come true and she is not worried about the Zika virus.

She was speaking as athletes reacted to news that golfer Rory McIlroy had pulled out of the Irish team for the Olympics.

"I've come to realise that my health and my family's health comes before anything else," he said.

"Even though the risk of infection from the Zika virus is considered low, it is a risk nonetheless."

McIlroy has grown more uncomfortable with the issue since he and his fiancee Erica Stoll were photographed in Zika hotspot Barbados in April.

Murphy, who will represent Ireland in the Laser Radial class, said she was not bothered about the virus.

She said the Olympics were taking place in the middle of winter in Rio when there were fewer mosquitoes.

"I've been in Rio four times in the last seven months. There are not that many mosquitoes in the city," she said.

"The Olympics are in August, which is the middle of winter there. The Zika virus is not really a concern for me.

"The Olympics are my dream. I've been working the last few years of my life for this. Most athletes would be the same."

Murphy pointed out that while there were many prestigious golf tournaments every year, the Olympics is the biggest one for most disciplines.

Natalya Coyle, who will represent Ireland in the modern pentathlon, expressed her shock at McIlroy pulling out.

"Seriously? It's the ultimate honour to represent your country at the Olympics and we've top medical staff looking after us," she wrote on Twitter.

Her post was accomp- anied by a copy of McIlroy's statement.

Darren O'Neill, who just lost out on the chance to represent Ireland in boxing in Rio, had even stronger words for the golfer, saying the team were better off without him.

Anger

"I have cried tears and spilled blood in trying to qualify for Rio. This affirms my opinions. We are better without him," tweeted O'Neill, who was the Irish boxing captain four years ago.

He also took to RTE's Liveline to vent his anger.

"For the likes of myself it's nearly a kick in the teeth, to be honest with you," he said.

"To see somebody who had the chance to represent their country at the Olympic Games, which in my opinion is the greatest sense of pride that you can have, to not take that chance doesn't make sense to me."

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