By IABA Press Officer Bernard O’Neill
Michael Conlan is honoured to captain his country at the 18th AIBA World Elite Championships and Olympic qualifiers in Doha, Qatar.
Irish head coach Billy Walsh confirmed to www.iaba.ie yesterday that the current European Elite bantamweight champion will lead Ireland’s seven-strong squad on the Arabian peninsula.
The team leave their training camp in Assisi, Italy for Doha on Friday.
Conlan, Brendan Irvine, Sean McComb, Dean Walsh, Adam Nolan, Michael O’Reilly and Joe Ward will represent Ireland in the Persian Gulf.
The squad are keeping an eye on the AIBA World rankings, which will be used to decide seeding in Doha. The rankings will be updated shortly.
Conlan, Ward, a bronze medal winner at the 2013 World Championships in Kazakhstan, and Michael O’Reilly, courtesy of winning three gold medals at the European Elite Championships and European Games this summer, have picked up maximum ranking points from the 2015 Continental tournaments.
Irvine, McComb and Walsh have also earned ranking points from this year’s European Elite Championships and European Games.
Twenty-three-year-old Conlan, who has qualified from Rio 2016 through the World Series of Boxing, and Ward, 21, are appearing in their third World Championships since Baku 2011 in Arabia.
“I feel really honoured (to be named Irish captain). I know it’s the right time and I’m the right person for the role, Conlan, the current Commonwealth Games champion and London 2012 bronze medallist, told the Irish Sun.
“I plan to lead the team in Rio, help motivate them and lead by example which I will do to my best ability on my way to getting that World gold.
“They (the squad) have all been congratulating me,” added Conlan who has been sparring with former AIBA World Elite champions Domenico Valentino and Albert Selimov in Assisi.
Team Ireland will have tests matches against Italy, Belarus and Bulgaria today.
Azerbaijan, who were also training in Assisi this week, departed for Doha today.
Olympic champion Katie Taylor, Paddy Barnes, Ceire Smith and Darren O’Neill are also in training camp in Assisi.
Boxing begins on Tuesday in Doha. 260 athletes will compete for medals and 23 Olympic places across ten weight classes.