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A nine-man Irish Elite squad arrived in France o Wednesday for a Round Robin tournament with Germany, Morocco and Sweden as well as the host nation.
The tournament begins in Calais on Thursday.
Irish 2012 Olympians Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, John Joe Nevin, Adam Nolan and Darren O’Neill are included in the Irish squad.
Joe Ward, the current European light-heavyweight champion, has also been named in the Irish panel, along with David Oliver Joyce, Ross Hickey and Steven Ward.
The Round Robin will be the final competitive tournament for the Olympic squad before London 2012.
Katie Taylor has also qualified for the 30th Olympiad but is not taking part in the Calais Round Robin.
Taylor won her fourth AIBA World Women’s 60kg title in-a-row in China last month.
Eight boxers, including Taylor, qualified for the London Olympics in the lightweight class in China.
The other four places (invitation places) to make up Taylor’s 12-strong lightweight Division will be distributed by the Tripartite Commission.
Among those hoping to receive such invites among the women are Canada’s Mary Spencer, Sweden’s Anna Laurell and in Taylor’s 60 kg division such as China’s Cheng Dong, Sarita Laishram Devi of India, Queen Underwood of USA and Turkey’s two time world champion Gulsum Tatar.
The Tripartite Commission are also due to announce their invitation places for male boxers for London 2012 shortly when Joe Ward will know whether or not he will be appearing in London.
Such Tripartite places have in the past gone to boxers from ‘weaker’ nations but of course women’s boxing is in for the first time therefore it does not follow that the same criteria will apply to men and women hoping for the call to London.
I believe that this time round the Committee will choose a mix of “weaker nations” contenders and “well established stars” especially in the women’s event where the AIBA will without doubt wish to ensure that the watching public will see just how strong women’s boxing really is. Even so some”stars” could miss out for example at 60kg, it seems unlikely that the AIBA would add another European boxer at 60kg when Taylor, Sofya Ochigava and Natasha Jonas are already qualified from the World championships.
There will have been a considerable amount of “behind the scenes activity” in recent weeks and this will have a significant bearing on who is chosen. Another important factor, especially among the women, will be the “safety” aspect as the fledgling sport can ill afford to take any risks in this the first occasion that women’s boxing has appeared as an ‘official’ sport in the Olympics.
Irish squad Round Robin Calais France June 7/10th
49kg Paddy Barnes (Holy Family)
52kg Michael Conlan (St John Bosco)
56kg John Joe Nevin (Cavan)
60kg David Oliver Joyce (St Michael’s Athy)
64kg Ross Hickey (Grangecon)
69kg Adam Nolan (Bray)
75kg Darren O’Neill (Paulstown)
81kg Joe Ward (Moate)
91kg Steven Ward (Monkstown)
Team manager: Des Donnelly
Coaches: Billy Walsh, Zuar Antia, Jimmy Halpin
R&J: Paul McMahon
Physio: Scott Murphy