Team Ireland jetted off the Italy this morning for a training camp in Assisi ahead of the European Olympic qualifiers next week in Turkey.
One boxer especially will be training like a madman and that is Tipperary super heavyweight Dean Gardiner.
‘Breakfast’ missed the start of 2016 through injury, but has dived straight back into action recently and plans to peak just in time for the qualifier in the Turkish resort city of Samsun.
irish-boxing.com caught up with the Clonmel colossus last week as he continues his chase for a dream spot in Rio this Summer.
Gardiner is happy with his preparations thus far and explained that “We had a good camp up here [Dublin training camp with Lithuania]”
“We’ve a week in Italy and then on to Turkey.”
“We’re not there yet but with the week over in Italy we’ll be in top shape.”
As the Road to Rio continues, Ireland continues to solidify it’s position as ‘the Cuba of Europe’ and the HPU currently boasts an Elite squad of 30 fighters.
For Gardiner, he appreciates the competition he faces in camp from Dublin youngster Thomas Carty and admits that “it’s great because if you don’t have any competition you could tend to slack off a bit.”
“When you have someone there, trying to take your spot, that makes you train 110%.”
“You want to be the top man always.”
The Munster man-mountain’s preparations for this Olympic year were slowed initially through injury, however Gardiner is confident that he will peak just in time for the qualifiers and secure his berth in Brazil.
The Premier County fighter describes how “after the Seniors I took a six week break because I was injured so I’m only getting back.”
“I’m still not there yet but I’ll be there by the time we get to Turkey.”
“I’m feeling very confident!”
Gardiner needs to finish in the Top 3 in Samsun to qualify for Rio. If he is defeated in the semi-finals he will enter into a third-place play-off with the other beaten semi-finalist.
Photo Credit – Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish