IABA to review High Performance Unit following medal-less Olympics

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Following Mick Conlan’s dubious defeat yesterday Ireland saw their remaining boxers at the Rio Olympics shrink to zero.

Eight flew out, seven fought, none medalled, five fights won, seven fights lost.

Indeed it was the first time since Athens in 2004 that Irish boxers did not claim an Olympic medal, something especially surprising considering that these Games came less than a year after the most successful World Championships in our history.

The last two weeks have undeniably, for all manner of reasons, been disappointing for Irish boxing fans.

Looking to build and improve from these Games, the IABA have released the bones of a plan going forward.

With the Conlan controversy fresh in the mind, they have promised to try and ensure a re-evaluation of the scoring and judging process used by AIBA.

Additionally, with many baying for blood, the organisation have promised to conduct a review of the entire High Performance Programme over the last four years.

Outlining these plans, the IABA last night released the following statement:

The Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) wants to congratulate each of our seven boxers who competed at the Rio Olympic Games. We are, of course, disappointed that for the first time since Athens in 2004 our boxers have not secured an Olympic medal for Ireland.

It has been a difficult Olympic Games for Irish boxing with the events of the last 10 days showing just how hard it is to win at this level. Many of our boxers came very close to progressing further.

The IABA fully understands the frustration expressed by our athletes and coaches regarding the outcome of some of the bouts at the Games particularly given the split decisions that went against three of our athletes, the casting decision which saw Katie lose and the controversy around Michael Conlan’s defeat earlier today.

We do not have an option to appeal decisions at the Olympic Games. IABA do however believe that in light of events in Rio, it is in the best interests of amateur Olympic boxing that the scoring and judging process is reviewed. We will look to work with other national federations and AIBA to ensure that this happens.

The boxers and the coaches are devastated and our primary concern at the moment is to support each of those who competed at Rio and who have dedicated the last four years of their lives to pursue their Olympic dreams.

We are so proud of each of the 7 Irish boxers who competed in Rio and want to thank Steven, Joe, David, Brendan, Michael, Paddy and Katie, the IABA High Performance coaching team of Zaur, John, Eddie, the support staff, as well as all the other members of the High Performance Programme who did not make it to the Olympics, for the contribution they have made to Irish boxing over the last number of years.

The nature of international sport is that it is continuously evolving. With that in mind we will be conducting a review of the entire High Performance Programme for the four years from London 2012 to Rio 2016 and will publish the outcome of that review later this year. An imperative of the review will be to establish that the systems supporting our zero-tolerance approach to doping in sport are in line with international best practice.

This review forms part of a larger strategic review of the IABA, to ensure the further growth and development of Irish boxing at all levels, which is currently underway and that we hope to have ready for publication in December.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: [email protected]