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HUGE HONOUR Olympian Brendan Irvine proud to be flagbearer for Ireland in opening ceremony

Brendan and the Irish team went viral across the globe for their tribute to Japanese culture at the opening ceremony.

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Brendan Irvivne with Kellie Harrington

Brendan Irvivne with Kellie Harrington

Brendan Irvine

Brendan Irvine

Brendan out with Bronagh at the Brooklyn Bridge in New York

Brendan out with Bronagh at the Brooklyn Bridge in New York

Brendan with his fiancée Bronagh after getting engaged in December last year

Brendan with his fiancée Bronagh after getting engaged in December last year

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Brendan Irvivne with Kellie Harrington

Brendan Irvine is living his dream.

Ireland's flag bearer at ­Friday's Olympic Games opening ceremony stepped into the ring for his first Olympic fight in Tokyo on Sunday but exited in the first round of the flyweight division.

The boxer and the Irish team went viral across the globe for their tribute to Japanese culture at the opening ceremony.

The whole Irish team bowed in unison towards the Japanese welcoming party - a gesture which earned them worldwide praise on social media.

Now, after years of blood, sweat and determination the Belfast boxer has finally got to where he was always planning to be.

Speaking to the Sunday World from the athletes' village, he said he only found a short time earlier that he and fellow boxer Kellie Harrington would carry the flag.

The coverage of them bowing to their Japanese hosts was so moving it went viral.

"Being chosen to carry the flag came as a complete shock," he said.

"It is a huge role, being an Olympian is something special but to be chosen to be a flag bearer for my country was just unbelievable. I felt immense pride, it is a great honour."

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Brendan Irvine

Brendan Irvine

Brendan Irvine

And his bride-to-be Bronagh Brady started crying when he rang to tell her the fantastic news.

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"When I told her she started crying. I FaceTimed her so I could see she was driving, I said don't be crashing because that's my car you are driving!" he told the Sunday World.

Brendan, who was plagued with almost two years of injury, has ­defied the odds in getting to where he stands today.

"I had two years of hell with injuries that I thought I would never get to where I am today. There was setback after setback. At one stage I couldn't drive for six months because of a fractured foot but I am still here kicking the door down and I will keep on doing that."

Irish boxing captain Brendan admits being apart from the love of his life is hard on them both but Bronagh is a rock of support and never complains.

"She is amazing, she is so ­supportive, she's just brilliant. If I'm having a tough time she knows how to pick me up, she also knows when to give me space.

"Being apart is hard, when I'm home I'm in Dublin Monday to Friday so we're used to being apart, like when I was at the Commonwealth Games, but yea it's hard - I miss her as much as she misses me," he added.

While Brendan is off fighting for his dream Bronagh, due to Covid, remains in Crumlin, Co Antrim, getting their first home together ready for her fiancé's return.

Bronagh told the Sunday World: "When we got engaged we said we would get married within a year but then we decided getting our first home was more important. We didn't want to be a married couple living with their parents.

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Brendan with his fiancée Bronagh after getting engaged in December last year

Brendan with his fiancée Bronagh after getting engaged in December last year

Brendan with his fiancée Bronagh after getting engaged in December last year

"We got the keys before Brendan went which was good so I have been getting as much done as I can."

The 23-year-old could not be prouder of her partner of five years but admits she wouldn't be watching the fight live.

"No chance, I don't watch them live. I find them too intense, I will watch it later though.

"I am so proud of him, we all are and I think he will do great. I can't wait to get him home though. Is he the love of my life? He is now, he sealed it with a ring," she smiled.

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