Diary of an Olympian

01 July 2008 – by John Joe Joyce with Rob Mulhern

With just under two months to go to the Olympics, I now know where I stand after the last week in Poland. I was out there with the Irish team for the EU Championships and I only ended up having one fight.

I drew Gyala Kate, a Hungarian boxer Ive fought twice before and went down 23-8 in the quarterfinals.

Kates a two time EU Champion and a former European bronze medallist and hes beaten me twice before. Last year at the EUs in Dublin I got within a couple of points of beating him. But then he beat me at the World Championships (in Chicago) and he beat me here.

I was a bit down after the fight, but then I came out here to see where I was for the Olympics. I think in a way its a good thing because if I had come out here and won, then I might take my foot off the pedal a bit.

After qualifying two months ago I probably took my time a little bit and I know Im not in the best shape I can be in right now.

I watched the fight back on video the day after, and I could see I was doing silly things. I probably threw twice as many punches as Kate but I probably shouldve stood into them a bit more.

I spent the rest of the week working with the trainers and Dom ORourke), and looking at those things. Some of the lads said they bet well meet again at the Olympics because weve been drawn so many times in the last year.

But it was great to be out here and see all the boxers that are in my weight for Beijing.

Lads like Frankie Gavin from England who won the World Championships in October.

After watching Frankie I wouldnt mind if I were to meet him. Ive never sparred him, but looking at him, his style would suit mine.

But most of the week was spent getting ready for the first fight and then training after I was knocked out at the quarter-finals stage.

Its been a busy week. When we arrived over we got to rest for an hour but with a weigh-in the next morning we had to go down and train to make sure wed be under.

I was a kilo and a half over 64kgs before, but after 45minutes of skipping and shadow boxing in the sweat gear I got it down.

The next morning everyone was trying to get in early for the weigh in. It started at 8 O clock and everyone had the same idea to get in early.

If everyone had stopped pushing and shoving we wouldve got through faster and then it was a bit to eat and back to bed for an hour because you wouldnt sleep that well the night before a fight.

Making weight has been fine since I moved up from 60 to 64kgs and the food was pretty good over there compared to other places. Plenty of pastas and chicken, cereals and energy drinks.

You have to be careful though because youve to weigh in every morning. Ive been rooming with my cousin Davy Oliver and Con Sheehan from Tipperary.

Davy won gold on Saturday and that was a great achievement for him and the club and there was a great buzz with the Irish team all week.

In all we won four gold medals, with Darren Sutherland, Ken Egan and John Joe Nevin winning along with Davy.

Paddy Barnes and Con got silver. Its great for the team because its an improvement from where we were last year when we won three gold and two silver.

Rooming with the boys I had to be good all week because I was out of the competition early and they were still in. But Davy was very relaxed the night before the final. His usual self. We always say sure you can only go out and box the lad in front of you and do your best.

And there were no mad celebrations after because we had to leave the hotel at three in the morning to get back to Ireland. Ill be back into the swing of things in Athy this week and therell be a good buzz in the club with Davy winning a European Title and Im focused more than ever on Beijing.

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