Ireland at the 2000 Sydney Olympics
Bernard O’Neill – IABA Press Officer
Michael Roche was the only Irish boxer at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
The Sunnyside BC light middleweight was the third athlete from the famed Cork club, after Kieran Joyce and Paul Buttimer, to qualify for an Olympiad.
Roche booked his ticket for the Sydney Games at the 2000 Chemistry Cup in Halle, Germany, with the stylish Munster technician taking home a silver medal.
Roche, a five-time Irish Elite champion, beat Fawis Nassir of Denmark and Czech fighter Josef Frecer to reach the 71kg final at the Halle tournament, which was also acting as a direct route to Sydney.
But he then lost to Hungary’s Karoly Balzay in the final on a walkover because of a back injury. However, his Olympic ticket was in the post.
Firat Karagollu awaited in Sydney and the Turk earned a 17-4 decision to end Roche’s and Ireland’s interest at the first hurdle in Australia.
Karagollu went out in the next phase to Frederic Esther of France. Nicholas Cruz worked Ireland’s corner in Sydney and Martin Power was Irish team manager.
“The Olympics was a fantastic experience and while I was obviously disappointed not to have progressed in Sydney I was very proud to represent my country at the Olympic Games,” said Roche, who was honoured this year for his outstanding contribution to the sport at a Cork Boxing Breakfast.
Cuba topped the medals table at the 2000 Games.