TEAM NI BOXING: Michael Conlan aims to learn from Delhi disappointment

Antoinette McKeown - Sport Northern Ireland Chief Executive Officer with Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes.
Antoinette McKeown - Sport Northern Ireland Chief Executive Officer with Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes.

Michael Conlan is looking to put the disappointment of Delhi 2010 behind him as he heads to this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Four years ago - the St John Bosco fighter - went to the Games on the back of his first Ireland Senior Elite title success in Dublin.

Big things were expected of the talented young gun - but Belfast lad Conlan went out of the Delhi Games before the medal stage and had to look on as Paddy Barnes, Eamonn O’Kane and Paddy Gallagher claimed gold and Steven Ward and Tommy McCarthy won silver.

Now Conlan - who has gone on to win bronze at the Olympics at London 2012 and silver at the European Championships in Minsk last year - says that he has grown in stature since the disappointment of Delhi 2010.

“I went to the Games in 2010 and I was only a boy then. I did not perform the way I know I can and I was gutted with the way things went.

“But that disappointment was the springboard for where I am today and I want to go back there and right that wrong,” he added.

And Conlan says the experience he has picked-up at the Olympics, Europeans and World Championships will give him a much better chance of claiming gold this time around.

“Of course, fighting in all those events have given me confidence and experience. You get to know what is the right thing to do and what to expect.

“Every competition, you learn more and I am going to Glasgow to win gold.

“Winning gold is what it is all about and that is what I am going to Glasgow to do,” he added.

And the Belfast fighter says he knows competition will be tough in Scotland this summer as he attempts to get his hands on gold.

“The kid from the India team is good. He is ranked three in the world and I am ranked two - so he is a good fighter.

“There is a fighter from England who is a good lad and there is another guy from Scotland. “The Scottish fighter is also from Glasgow, so he will have loads of support there cheering him on, so he will be boosted by all the support.

“There are a number of tough fights - but I believe if I turn-up and deliver, I have the tools to take care of anyone in the weight division,” he added.

And Conlan says he will be in ‘the shape of his life’ for the start of his Games campaign.

“It was great to be in the camp at the Sport Northern Ireland Sports Institute.

“The facilities here are fantastic and it has been great getting the international teams over here for sparring and it helps us fine tune things before the Games.

“Everything has gone well and I will be ready to get started. It is also great that the Games are in Scotland.

“I have my girlfriend and loads of my family going over to watch - so there will be plenty of support - which does help,” he added.

And Conlan’s father John will also be in Glasgow as he is the High Performance coach for Ulster Boxing and the Commonwealth Games and he says there is loads of talent in the squad.

“We did very well in Delhi but we will go to these Games looking at our performances. We will go into it looking at our first fight and then take it fight by fight, but we are hopeful of coming home with some medals,” he added.

And John says he is looking forward to seeing his son compete at his second Commonwealth Games.

“I have been coaching him since he was eight years of age and when he is in the ring we are not father and son, we are coach and boxer.

“And sometimes he gets a bit lippy just like any other boxer. Paddy Barnes is another who likes his say on things.

“But it’s great that Michael is in his second Commonwealth Games and he is determined to go better than he did in Delhi,” he added.

And Barnes says he has gold in his sights.

“Anything else than gold would be a massive disappointment.

“I won gold at the last Games and that is the only colour I want. Bronze or silver would be a huge disappointment. I will be gutted if I don’t win gold. Every games I enter I want to win gold - anything less is not good enough,” he added.

“I will not make any predictions as we have a very young and inexperienced team.

“But the talent is there and we could surprise a few people,” he added.

Barnes says there will be stiff competition in the 49kg division.

“India has a few good boxers and they will have a strong team.

“They have a number of young boxers coming through and they will be there or there abouts,” said Barnes.