Saturday 16 December 2017

Irish boxer Joe Ward qualifies for 2016 Rio Olympics

Joe Ward
Joe Ward

Joe Ward has achieved his lifetime ambition and qualified for the Rio Olympics in 2016. He outclassed his 29-year-old opponent Elshod Rasulov from Uzbekistan in the semi-final of the light heavyweight category at the World championships in Doha.

As the Fields of Athenry rang out around the arena, the referee raised Ward's hand to signal that he was through to his first ever World decider at Elite level. So at worst he is assured of bringing home a silver medal from Doha - but the real prize is that regardless of how he fares in Thursday's decideragainst defending title holder Julio La Cruz from Cuba, Ward has secured a spot at the Rio Olympics.

"It was great to get the win after all the ups and downs I've had during my career. A lot of people wrote me off but I stuck with it.

"My coach Eddie Bolger, my family, my girlfriend at home and my kids they motivated and today I got what I wanted. My dream was to box in the Olympics," said an unusually emotional Ward.

The Moate pugilist who celebrates his 22nd birthday at the end of the month paid tribute to Seamus Dorrington, his first coach at Moate BC club.

"It's a massive achievement for me to be going to be Olympics and to get a world silver medal," said Ward, who won a bronze medal at the last World championships two years. In the 2013 semi-final in Almaty he lost to La Cruz.

Ward acknowledged that he wondered at times whether he would ever fulfill his Olympic ambitions. 'Of course, you (begin to doubt yourself) and the pressure starts to build more and more and you wonder whether you will make. By J... didn't I make it for me today. It is a dream come true."

As expected the fight itself as a tactical affair as both boxers are renowned counter punches. judges' cards.

And three Irish boxers Ward, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan have secured spot in Rio next year.

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