A weight-drained Barnes was eliminated in his opening fight by Spanish light fly Samuel Carmona Heredia, extinguishing his chances of an historic third consecutive Olympic medal.
However Antia refused to despair and told RTÉ that Barnes is “still a young boy. He’s a very very special boxer, a very strong boxer.”
“Muhammad Ali lost, and all the legends lost fights, this is boxing, you never know.”
“With his style he can continue his career, but that weight may cost him a little probably.”
Indeed the Georgian coach (via Wicklow) admitted that while they were confident ahead of the Games, the weight issue was something that was always a worry. He noted that “you have to try, you have to be very confident, but inside our heart we feel, he made weight but it was a long time before this day [since he previously made weight].”
Nevertheless, Antia was proud of the Irish team captain’s exhausted but immensely brave performance in Brazil, and described how “he did everything possible, the intensity was unusual maybe his attack was one second or two second off.”
“I can’t say anything, I am very happy with his performance.”