Dunne praises inspirational Irvine as ‘Wee Rooster’ is officially declared Ireland’s third Tokyo Olympian

Bernard Dunne hailed Brendan Irvine’s ‘remarkable achievements as ‘example’ to all who fall on difficult times on the day he was officially selected to represent Team Ireland at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer

The Rio Olympian from Belfast secured his Olympic berth at the European Olympic boxing qualifier in London in March 2020, shortly before the event was postponed, but was only officially declared an Olympian today.

The St Paul’s fighter timed his return from injury and form perfectly and produced the kind of display that saw some herald him as a genuine medal hope, as he defeated Hungarian Istvan Szaka to become a two-time Olympian last year.

It brought to an end a serious period of frustration for ‘The Wee Rooster’. Over the two years previous he was a genuine Tokyo doubt. Indeed, such were the injuries he suffered the Irish boxing team captain was afraid he wouldn’t be ready for the qualifiers.

The fact he did bounce back from such setbacks and secured a place in the 34th Olympiad made today’s official news all the more special for High-Performance Director Dunne.

“What Brendan has achieved in becoming a double Olympian is remarkable, especially considering the challenges and setbacks that he has had over the past two years,” said Dunne.

“He has had limited chances to compete, and in his first major competition in almost two years, he qualified for the Olympic Games. This shows his drive and determination, qualities which are why we chose him as captain and leader. It is a credit to him to get where he is and is a fantastic achievement. Brendan is a great example to all our athletes, he followed the path and never lost belief. Through all his setbacks, he had good support around him and that helped too.”

Irvine, whose competition will take place in the Kokugikan Arena, and run from Monday 26 July until Saturday 7 August said: “I’m really delighted to be selected to compete in my second Olympic Games. It is always an honour to wear the Irish top, but to wear in an Olympic venue is particularly special. Tokyo will be its own unique experience. We may not have the loud cheers of Rio, but that won’t stop me. I am looking forward to getting out there and representing my country once more with pride.”

Olympic Federation of Ireland Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020, Tricia Heberle added: “We are delighted to welcome Brendan to the team as an officially selected Team Ireland member for Tokyo. Brendan is a tremendous worker, who brings with him a lot of experience having already competed in the Rio Olympics. He can now call himself a dual Olympian, an honour that very few athletes achieve.”

This is the third official Team Ireland Tokyo team announcement, and currently Team Ireland has achieved 65 quota spots across thirteen sports, with many athletes and sports at various stages on that qualification journey. Team announcements will come more frequently as we approach the summer, with the final team announcement scheduled for the beginning of July.

Twenty-four-year-old Irvine joins Canoe Slalom racer Liam Jegou and Jack Woolley from Taekwondo as officially selected Team Ireland members for the Games which run from the 23rd July to 8th August.

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com