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‘Nobody understands except for a few people close to me’ – Brendan Irvine discusses Olympic qualification struggles

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Brendan Irvine finally opened up about the injury nightmare that made Olympic qualification all the more rewarding.

‘The Wee Rooster’ became the first and indeed only Irish fighter to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Monday.

The Irish team captain beat Hungarian Istavan Szaka over three rounds at London’s CopperBox Arena to secure a spot on the plane before the qualifiers where shut down early.

Considering he was the only member of the 13 person team that traveled to London with Olympic experience, most would assume Irvine was well fancied to qualify.

However, over the last two years he was a genuine Tokyo doubt. Indeed, the fighter himself was afraid he wouldn’t be ready for the first of the two qualifiers.

“I didn’t even think I was going to get the chance to come to the Olympic qualifiers so to qualify first time round is unbelievable,” smiled the 23-year-old when speaking to the BBC.

“There have been a lot of ups and down. In training for the Commonwealth Games, I tore a ligament in my hand and then I fractured my foot last year before the European games,” he adds before referring to previous queries as to why Irvine hadn’t been overly active.

“Nobody has seen that. I think people maybe thought I had dropped off the radar and given up but I was training every day.

“I was training in a (protective) boot thinking I was going to the World Championships. Nobody understands except for a few people close to me.

“I’m over the moon.”

The Rio Olympian has bagged qualification early and at the first attempt meaning he can now focus on being in the best shape for Tokyo.

“It gives me more time to prepare physically and mentally. I can go back to the drawing board and work on things I didn’t get to show here.

“With time, everything will click together nicely.”


Jonny Stapleton contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 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: