Diary of an Olympian

10 July 2008 – by John Joe Joyce with Rob Mulhern

I knew this week was going to be hard and I knew there were sessions where I couldve gone with the flow, but I really pushed myself in every session.

We were training this week in Dublin. Training in the High-Performance Unit beside the National Stadium and then staying there too.

After each session I felt like I wanted more work and I was looking for more to do. Thats why I think it was a good thing that I was knocked out early at the EU Championship. Losing has given me that training edge to work harder.

I was sparring with Kenny Egan our captain, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kennys a lot heavier than me, hes 81kgs and Im 64kgs, but it was good for me to get used to the power of a heavier fighter. For Kenny its good for him too because Id be a lot faster – being lighter.

Hed say to me youre a lot quicker and Id say well you hit a lot harder and thats the way wed work it. Kennys a good lad to have as captain. Hes very experienced and is the oldest guy on the team. He has been one of the top amateurs in Europe for the last six or seven years. And with only the five of us only training up in Dublin now, it feels like we are really going to the Olympics.

Usually when we go to Dublin thered be 11 of us, but now its just the five and the whole Olympic buzz really started. I was thinking back to Andy Lee going out the last time and how tough it must have been for him to go out on his own.

The five of us (Paddy Barnes 48kgs, John Joe Nevin 54kgs, Darren Sutherland 75kgs, Kenny Egan 81kgs and me) are great mates anyway and well probably start to rely on each other more as Beijing gets closer.

We were saying during the week how happy we are that so many of us qualified for that reason.

The big thing that happened this week was I got my date for the first day of competition out in Beijing. Ill be fighting on August 10 and the boxing starts properly the day before that. I wasnt nervous at all when I got told the date.

I was just happy I wasnt boxing on the very first day of competition.

The thing is I dont like boxing on the early days of a competition. I always find that as an event goes on I get stronger and better, so at least on the first day of boxing I can go down and watch, and get a feel for it before I start the next day.

With the boxing on so early too, Im wondering about things like the opening ceremony being too close to my start date. The ceremony starts on the eighth, then theres a days break, and then Im boxing.

I know what a great thing the opening night is, and what an honour it all is, but with it being so close I dont know if Ill be walking in it.

I know it would mean Id be on my feet for a long time that day. Thered be a lot of standing around and that wouldnt be the best preparation so close to my fight. At the end of the day, Im over there to try and do the business, not to be walking around the place.

Before then though theres lots of training to be done. Were in France now this week with the German, French and English teams and its funny now because were at the stage where we all know of each other sure were staying in the same hotel out here and the coaches are really starting to concentrate on all the detail.

Our diet is being carefully watched and were getting things like regular hydration tests. Thats when they test our urine and use the results to make sure were getting back the liquids and vitamins that were losing when we train.

Well be off to Russia then in a few weeks and I know Dom (ORourke) has an event lined up in Athy before I leave, but it probably wont be anything more than an exhibition. I dont want to take the chance of getting cut or injured before I go out to Beijing.

But theres a big week of sparring to get through here first.

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