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Harrington is ready to travel to Brazil in August. James Crombie/INPHO
Proud Paddy

'This might be my one and only chance' - Harrington ready to answer Ireland's call in Rio

As it stands, Harrington and Seamus Power will be Ireland’s representatives at the Olympics.

PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON HAS made no secret of his desire to compete at the Olympics and now he’s ready to answer Ireland’s call in Rio.

The three-time Major winner previously stated he would do everything to represent Ireland at the Games and now, it seems, he’s been handed that opportunity by the withdrawal of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.

Harrington does still technically need to be selected by captain Paul McGinley by the 11 July cut off date but the 44-year-old has reiterated his desire to travel to Brazil later this summer.

There is growing concern over the threat of the Zika virus with many of the world’s top players citing the health warning as a reason for pulling out. Yesterday, world number one Jason Day and Shane Lowry were the latest to make themselves unavailable.

“Obviously bad news for Irish golf that Shane [Lowry] has pulled out, but I think of all the people you could look at in the world of sport nobody would want to play for his country more than Shane,” Harrington told Newstalk’s Off the Ball.

“Ultimately I think there’s more than one person making the decision for a lot of golfers, because the majority of golfers are married with young families or starting families.”

“I can understand players aren’t going to take a risk this given year, but let’s face it if it was our only chance to ever play the Olympics, I think a lot more of the guys would have taken that chance.

Sports Personality of the Year 2015 - Red Carpet Harrington has defended Shane Lowry's decision. PA Archive / Press Association Images PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

“They realise there are possibilities in the future, but someone like me who is coming towards the twilight of their career is going to take every chance I can to get to make the Olympics. This might be my one and only chance.”

Lowry became the third Irish golfer to withdraw following McIlroy and McDowell. The 29-year-old, ranked 25th in the world, is recently married and said he felt he would be putting his future family plans at risk and based his decision on “firm medical advice”.

The threat of the mosquito-borne virus, which can lead to birth defects, has been cited as the reason for withdrawal by a number of golfers, as the sport returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1904.

And it’s for that reason why so many players are deciding against competing at the Games, according to Harrington.

“Yes, there are other golfers who don’t rate the Olympics like they do Majors,” he continued.

“There are 16 Majors between each Olympics, so one Olympics is not a big deal to a lot of players.

“But look at the tennis. A lot of players didn’t want to play that when it started off, but now it’s a much bigger event. Give it time and it will grow on the players.

“Another thing with the golfers is that we have a much longer career. It’s not guaranteed with a lot of athletes that their career will surpass one Olympics. But with golf a career lasts 20 years so some players can play three or four or five.”

As it stands, Harrington will be joined on the two-man Irish team by Waterford’s Seamus Power. Paul Dunne, who yesterday qualified for the Open, is next in line.

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