Diary of an Olympian

27 July 2008 – by John Joe Joyce with Rob Mulhern

I got a call from Andy Lee last Sunday. He beat Willie Gibbs the night before in Limerick and I texted afterwards to say he’d done brilliantly.

He rang then and it was great to get the call off him because he’s been through the Olympics before and Andy would give you good advice.

At lot of what he said made sense. He told me the worst thing he did when he went, was to allow the whole occasion get the better of him.

You can lose your focus when you do that and Andy said it may have affected his performance.

To tell you the truth, I was kind of thinking along those lines myself. I’m in that mindset now anyway: that it’s going to be just another boxing tournament – but a big one.

I’m going to know all the boxers out in Beijing and that’s great, because it will mean that there won’t be any surprises for me.

The IABA have decided to fly us to Beijing first so we can have a good look around. We will get to see all the stadiums and where we’re staying before we go to Russia for our last training camp.

That way, when we get back, nothing will be a surprise to us and we’ll be used to the time difference, too. We just have to focus on the job then.

Andy was saying to me that most of the hard training should be done by now and he’s right.

The next few weeks in Russia will be all about sharpening up, getting a few spars, trying to relax and trying not to make a big thing about it, even though it is a big thing.

Leaving today was tough in some ways because you want to do your best for your family, your club, your country and yourself.

My family won’t be in Beijing because it’s just too expensive to get out there and you know they’ll probably be more nervous than me – even watching from home.

Everyone was down in Athy for my last warm-up fight on Friday and it was a great night.

When my coach told me I’d be fighting the Irish number 2 – in a heigher than me – I was thinking, ‘so much for an easy exhibition!’ But I was happy with the way it went.

It was against a 69kg fella’ called Willie Mcloughlin and if I bring Friday’s form to Russia with me I’ll be happy.

The last three of four days since then have been hectic but I’m enjoying them too.

There have been lots of interviews and myself John Joe Nevin and Martin Fagan were asked to take part in a parade through our home town of Mullingar on Sunday.

Nevin is a boxer like me – he was the second boxer to qualify actually – and Martin Fagan is a runner.

It was great to talk to Martin on Sunday, he was telling me about his training programme out in Arizona and we had similar ideas about we’re going to approach Beijing.

We were both saying that if we can just manage to focus on doing our best – and forget about everything else – then that’s where we want to be.

We’re leaving today and the next time we get back to Ireland the Olympics will be all over. It’s just important to enjoy every day now and put the work in everyday from here to the finish – whenever that will be.

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