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Dublin: 5 °C Tuesday 26 March, 2019

Meet Ireland's Olympic Team: Steven Donnelly

The Ballymena brawler is confident of winning a medal after qualifying at the expense of Adam Nolan.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Event: 69 kg (welterweight) boxing.

Who is he? Donnelly is a 27-year-old who has represented Ireland, competed at Commonwealth Games and also fought at the World Series of Boxing.

Where’s he from? Ballymena, Co. Antrim, where he began boxing at the All Saints club.

Olympic CV: This will be Donnelly’s first Olympic Games. He missed out on 2012 as national welterweight champion Adam Nolan claimed the berth in London.

Steven Donnelly (red) in action against Khariton Agrba (blue) Donnelly fighting in an international for Ireland against Russia early this month. Source: INPHO

Road to Rio: It’s a complicated one.

Four years on, Nolan was again the Irish champion but didn’t get a chance to compete in the qualifying tournament because Donnelly had already qualified through his WSB exploits.

Fighting for Polish team Hussars, Nolan finished fourth in the WSB, but the top-placed fighter – Morocco’s Mohammad Rabii – also qualified through the World Elites event in Qatar. That left Russia’s Radzhab Butaev in possession of a place, but as only one place per nation is permitted, Butaev then had to fight Andrey Zamkovoy (whose qualificatoin came in the AIBA Pro series).

Sport - 2014 Commonwealth Games - Day Seven Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Fortunately for Donnelly, Zamkovoy won, rendering Butaev’s qualification null and booking Donnelly’s passage from Ballymena to Brazil.

When does he start? The welterweights get under way on Sunday 7 August, so catch Donnelly in the session starting at 5pm.

Where can I follow him? The boxers flew off last week and you can keep up to date with them by following @Steven_Donnelly on Twitter.

What he says: “I’m not saying I’m going to win, but I know I can definitely win a medal,” Donnelly told the Sunday World last weekend.

Medal chances: There’s little doubt that Donnelly’s WSB ranking would have been improved were it not for a visa mix-up that left him unable to compete for a time. However, the 27-year-old will have to upset the odds and quite a few ranking places to achieve his podium goal.


And here’s something you probably didn’t know…

Donnelly celebrated his qualification for Rio by getting a tattoo of Christ the Redeemer as his journey to becoming an Olympian is something of a redemption story. He has forced a great deal of discipline on himself since being sent home from the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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