By Jonny Stapleton
Having secured his place in London 2012 Michael Conlan goes into this years National Senior Elite Championship a little more relaxed than all bar John Joe Nevin and Darren O’Neill, but claims the pressure to win is still there.
Indeed so is the desire to emerge victorious. The younger brother of professional Jamie Conlan, who has a British title eliminator in Liverpool this month, doesn’t need to win the national crown to secure a place in the final Olympic qualifier in Turkey in April.
However, the Belfast fighter says there is not to many better feelings than being afforded the status as the best at your weight in the country. As a result the 19 year old talent wants to retains his title.
“It’s a lot different going into the seniors this time, its a different kind of pressure. I have qualified for London so I am expected to win in the Seniors, but on the other hand the pressure of getting the spot for the team going to qualifiers is off. In that regard I am a bit more relaxed,” Conlan told www.irish-boxing.com
“I will use the tournament as preparation for the games, but I still have the desire to be crowned champ again, there not many better feelings than wining an Irish Senior title.”
The St John Bosco club man enters the flyweight categoryas favourite, a big turn around from this time last year. After he failed to win the Ulster title ahead of last years Seniors he was deemed an outsider.
The favourite tag doesn’t rest uncomfortably on Conlan’s vest, but he is adamant he won’t be taking any opponent for granted.
“Its good to be favourite, but I am still not taking anything or anyone for granted. So ill be going into the championships they way I always do. I don’t care who I am boxing or where I just want to make sure I perform to my best then the results will follow.”
With a chance to qualify for the Olympics on the line and a mouth watering pool of talent set to enter this years Seniors, which kick glove off on January 20, has the potential to eclipse any show to come to Ireland in 2012.
Irish fight fans already drooling, but Conlan wets the palate further revealing there is an added amount of tension in the High Performance unit.
“The tension around the gym has increase between the lads who haven’t qualified, but not too much. Everyone is still good mates outside of the ring, but in the ring its a dog eat dog world as you know. Everyone is working extra hard in the gym as there is an added incentive to training.”