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Dublin: 3 °C Monday 10 December, 2018

Darren O'Neill has three routes to the Rio Olympics - but he's hoping for Turkish delight

“You have to think through every possibility.”

O'Neill: steps up to heavyweight for Olympic bid.
O'Neill: steps up to heavyweight for Olympic bid.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

FORMER OLYMPIC CAPTAIN Darren O’Neill is hoping to book his place at a second Olympics at the first time of asking as he heads into the European qualifier this weekend.

O’Neill may have three routes to the Rio 2016 Games as he is pursuing a possible qualification path through the World Series of Boxing tournament, while there will also be a final Olympic ‘world’ qualifier this summer.

The Kilkenny man is aiming to get the job done ASAP, however, with action underway in Samsun, Turkey on Saturday.

“I’m hoping obviously that things go well in the draw and I can get a few good performances in and I’m looking forward to the competition,” said the former Cats Under 21 hurler.

“You have to think through every possibility. The goal is obviously to try and get through Turkey, but we’re working behind the scenes to try and get me another WSB fight.

I need a second (WSB) fight so we’re trying to get that across the line. It’s not looking great at the minute but we’ll keep pursuing it and we have the other world qualifier in June as well, so we’re keeping all avenues open.

“I’ve just been looking (to get) into great shape for the first qualifier,” added O’Neill.

The Paulstown man, who captained Team Ireland at the London 2012 Olympics, has moved up from middleweight (75kg) to heavyweight (91kg) in recent years in preparation for a shot at qualification.

“I feel happy at the weight. It’s funny when I was 75kg, I used to look across at the shoulders and arms of all these big lads and when I step up to 91kg and never once have I looked across and thought the guy was a monster,” said O’Neill.

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Ciarán Gallagher

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