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10th Oct 2023

Ireland’s Olympic medal hopes set to take big hit ahead of LA 2028

Niall McIntyre

Ireland’s hopes of future Olympic medals could be set to take something of a hit with speculation that boxing and lightweight rowing will not be on the roster for Los Angeles 2028.

Between them, boxing and lightweight rowing have accounted for more than half of Ireland’s total Olympic medal tally.

In our Olympic history, Ireland’s boxers have won eighteen of our 35 medals while our lightweight rowers have tallied three.

But now, the future of the two sports at the Olympic games is in jeopardy, with the final approval of the LA card set to be announced by the International Olympic Committee this weekend.

A dispute between the International Olympic Committee and the International Boxing Association has long threatened boxing’s place at the games and the fall-out could now result in a boxing black-out from as early as Paris 2024.

The IOC did manage to run off a full-card of boxing at Tokyo 2020, however it is now being reported that the IBA may put a stop to the supply of officials for future games. Ever since 2016, when a string of controversial boxing results were recorded in Rio, boxing’s at the games has been under pressure.

Ireland’s Olympic gold-medal-winning boxers down through the years include Kellie Harrington, Katie Taylor and Michael Carruth.

Meanwhile, from a rowing perspective, it has long been mooted that weight divisions would be discontinued in the sport and while they will run as normal in Paris 2024, there will be changes for LA 2028.

This directly affects Ireland’s lightweight double sculls gold medal winning duo of Tokyo 2020, Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy, as that discipline will not take place in 2028.

We spoke to McCarthy last week about the changes, and he hinted at possibly rising in the weight categories to adapt somewhere down the line.

“I suppose the next Olympics is just the main goal, and all the qualifiers for it,” said the Cork man.

“But I do see it as a long-term thing, as long as I’m still enjoying it and, yeah, still loving it like I do now, I don’t see why not.

“Like, there are question marks over our event after next year – that the whole lightweight thing, I’m not sure if that’s going to be part of the Olympics past Paris.

“So I might have to reassess after that.”

Paul O'Donovan

“But then again, at the same time, that is probably the one thing that would affect a decision on [my future] because especially, I know I’m only 26 but getting older.

“It is getting more and more difficult to sort of stay on weight and make weight and, just think about that and have that as a factor in rowing and training as the years go on.

“I’m always, obviously, happy to do it because it means we can race and, and win medals.

“But I’m just not sure whether there will be a time where that will take a bit more of a toll, I guess.

“I think we’ll have to make a proper decision after Paris but, until then, full steam ahead.”

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