Irish teenage boxing sensation Joe Ward is in defiant mood after he failed to qualify for the Olympics via the World Championship route-and is adamant his Olympic dream is still alive.
The Moat light heavyweight was tipped to medal in the World Championship’s in Baku and was expected at the very least secure a London 2012 berth, but suffered a shock last 16 defeat and achieved neither.
Ward now enters last chance saloon and the fighter, who has been dominating tournaments around the world over the last year, is confident he will still make it to biggest of the amateur boxing stages.
The rising star is preaching off the down but not out hymn sheet and is believes London is still calling.
“As they say, I’m down but I’m certainly not out,” Ward told the West Meath Independent.
“I was devastated after last week’s fight, but I blame myself, because I didn’t fight as well as I should have. I just have to leave it behind me now. Of course I was desperate to qualify for the Olympics, and to get it done and dusted last week, but I’ve to go down a different route now, and I’m confident I can still do it. I can’t get bogged down about last week and just have to move on,” he added.
John Joe Nevin, Michael Conlon and Darren O’Neill all secured their Olympic places, but there is still hope for the rest of the Irish squad.
Fighters can earn passage via the European qualifiers in Turkey in April. With all the big names already qualified and considering April’s tournament is a pool of continental and not international fighters Ward would be a safe bet to progress.
However, the biggest treat to his London 2012 dream could come domestically. Ward could have to over come Irish legend Kenny Egan in the National Seniors to ensure he travels to Turkey.
“I have to concentrate on the nationals in January. I just need to get back to myself. If I’m on form, and boxing as everyone knows I can, then I’ll be confident going into the nationals. I believe nobody in the country can beat me,” said Ward.
Next April’s Olympic qualifier is due to take place in either Russia or Turkey, and five light-heavyweight places remain to be filled for the Olympics next summer.
“I just have to make sure I’m among those five places. But firstly, I have to win the nationals again,” Ward said.