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Ireland's Dean Gardiner is one win away from a place in the Olympics and a gold medal in Baku

The Clonmel native has reached the final of the Olympic qualifiers.

Dean Gardiner
Dean Gardiner
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IRELAND IS ON the verge of sending a ninth boxer to Rio de Janeiro for this summer’s Olympic Games.

Tipperary’s Dean Gardiner has reached the super-heavyweight final at the Olympic qualifiers in Baku after defeating Alexei Zavatin in today’s semi-final. Gardiner recorded a unanimous-decision victory over his Moldovan opponent.

With just one Olympic spot up for grabs in the +91kg weight class, the Clonmel native must overcome Italy’s Guido Vianello — who Gardiner defeated in last year’s European Games — in tomorrow’s decider to seal his ticket to Rio.

Yesterday, Ireland’s 2016 Olympic boxing team added an eighth member when Michael O’Reilly defeated Azerbaijan’s Shinebayor Narmandakh. That was a quarter-final bout, but with five places on offer at middleweight, the win guaranteed that O’Reilly will be heading to Brazil.

O’Reilly will now also be in final action tomorrow against Turkmenistan’s Arslanbek Achilov. The Portlaoise boxer scored a unanimous-decision victory against Waheed Abdulridha Waheed of Iraq in their semi-final meeting today.

The other Irish boxers already confirmed to be accompanying O’Reilly in Rio are Paddy Barnes, Brendan Irvine, Michael Conlan, David Oliver Joyce, Steven Donnelly, Joe Ward and Katie Taylor.

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Paul Dollery

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