Olympics 2016

Donnelly win the highlight of Day 2 for Team Ireland in Rio

Olympics 2016By Sean McGoldrick
Steven Donnelly got his quest for an Olympic medal off to a perfect start
Steven Donnelly got his quest for an Olympic medal off to a perfect start


Following a difficult week for Irish boxing in Rio, Steven Donnelly provided some welcome relief as he booked his place in the last 16 of the welterweight bracket with a relatively routine unanimous victory over Algeria’s Zohir Kedache.

With the din of Michael O’Reilly’s failed drugs test ringing in the ears of Irish sport, Ballymena native Donnelly seamlessly resorted some of the feel-good factor for Team Ireland at the Riocentro Pavillion

The first of the Irish boxers to compete at the Games in Rio, Donnelly gave a brave display against Kedache, blending speed and accuracy with equal measure.

The 27-year-old controlled the bout from bell to bell and moves on to the next round where he will meet Mongolia’s Tuvshinbat Byamba in the last 16 on Thursday.

Donnelly appeared both relieved and overjoyed by the victory.

"Always good to get the first one out of the way. Over the moon with the performance," he said.

David Oliver Joyce is next up for Ireland and will enter the ring at approximately 9:30pm on Sunday.

Paddy Barnes looked the happiest man in Rio on Friday night when he became the seventh Irish boxer to carry the Irish tricolour in the opening ceremony at an Olympic Games.

In his biography on the official Rio Olympic website he is listed is living in Belfast, United Kingdom! But the 29 year old double Olympic medallist is a very proud Irishman.

At heart he's a fierce competitor; carrying the flag was like the icing on the cake, even if it came before the real business begins on Monday in Pavalion Six of the Rio Centre.

Shortly before noon local time he steps into the ring to take on 20-year-old Spaniard Samuel Heredia Carmona in the second round of the light flyweight division.

As soon as the bell rings Barnes will create history becoming the first Irish boxer to compete in three successive Olympic Games.

But records don't concern him any more. “I'm only interested in winning medals at major championships not just competing,” he remarked recently.

Barnes will have happy memories of his last visit to South America. On a sweltering night in the Venezuelan port city of Maiquetia, in April 2015 Barnes – and his team mate and friend Michael Conlan – both secured her places at the Rio Games.

Barnes won his seventh consecutive fight in the space of 13 weeks in the World Boxing Series that night to secure the WSB title in the 49kg category and more importantly a place in the Rio Olympics.

But for a variety of different reasons Barnes hasn't boxed in a championship since.

He had to have surgery on his hand after his return from Venezuela and in his absence Brendan Irvine won a silver medal in his weight category at the inaugural European Games in Baku last summer which secured a place at the World championships in Doha last October.

In the end Irvine qualified for Rio in the heavier flyweight division. But Barnes' 15 month break from championship boxing is a source of concern.

However, his energetic performance against a Russian fighter in a test match last month in the National Stadium before the Irish team departed to a training camp in Rio suggested that he had lost none of his sharpness and his energy levels were as impressive as ever.

So he ought to get his Rio campaign off to a winning start and take the first step on a journey which he hopes will yield a record breaking third Olympic medal on the spin.


American born Shane Ryan not alone fulfilled his ambition to swim for Ireland at the Olympic Games but has qualified for the semi-finals of the 100m backstroke.

Ryan broke into a broad smile when informed by journalists in the mixed zone that he had progressed. The semi-final takes place at midnight local time (4am Irish time)

Drawn in heat three Ryan, who has been living in a small house in the far corner of the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown for the last year, set a new Irish record of 53.01 to finish 14th fastest overall.

He was second at the 50m mark and although he faded to fourth in the end his time was sufficient to see him through as the top sixteen qualified for the semi-final.

“I'm in bonus territory now,” said Ryan who revealed that he had an eventful day even before the competition as there were fears that the tent where he was having breakfast would blow over due to the high winds in Rio today.

But there was no joy for Fiona Doyle, however, who finished 8th and last in heat five of the breaststroke and 20th overall which wasn't sufficient to secure her a place in the next round. A distraught Doyle said she was very disappointed with her swim.


Ellis O'Reilly became Ireland's first ever female gymnast to compete at the Olympics but an awkward landing when dismounting from the beam cost her any chance of qualification for the next round.


After their narrow opening-day defeat to India, Ireland take on the Netherlands at 10pm on Sunday.


The Irish quartet of Jonty Evans, Padraig McCarthy, Clare Abbott and Mark Kyle performed well in on Sunday with the team sitting in fifth place after the dressage phase of competition.

This is traditionally Ireland's weakest section in eventing, so hopes are high that the team can improve on that position in the cross country and jumping competitions.

Individually, Evans is best of the Irish, in 9th place.