Billy, Adam & Co at training camp in Italy
COUNTDOWN CONTINUES TO LONDON 2012
THE IRISH boxing team were home to say their final farewells and give their final statements to the press last week before they jetted off to their Italian training camp on Friday to isolate themselves and complete the last of their pre- Olympic preparations.
Head coach Billy Walsh said ahead of the journey that: ' We've had a busy few days alright. The lads have been doing interviews and talking to the press as well as doing their usual training. They've also had a chance to spar and train with members of the Indian and Tunisian team which has been good for them. They'll be gathering together the last of their stuff and saying their goodbyes now today before we fly out for Italy tomorrow.'
Although the Olympics are being held close to home this year in London, the team have decided to complete their final training in Assisi, Italy as Billy feels it's important for his boxers to escape the spotlight and maybe even obtain a bit of divine inspiration. ' We'll be over praying to St Francis to help us out over the tournament,' Billy joked.
'Seriously though, I think it's important that the lads get away from the hype that surrounds them and the pressure that's on them at home. There are a lot of expectations at home, some of them unrealistic. It's no easy task to get your hands on a medal but we'll just focus on our own jobs and the draw for the first fight and take it from there.'
While some of the expectations of the Irish boxing team may be unrealistic, Billy still recognises the fact that his group of Irish boxers are still quite feared by other nations in the tournament. 'Well I suppose nobody wants to meet an Irishman, do they? I think other nations know what we're capable of, but we're a very grounded bunch. The lads know that once they step into the ring with an opponent, rankings and expectations count for nothing. It all becomes about getting it right on the day and doing the simple things right and that's what we're focusing on at the minute.'
While the whole of Wexford will be cheering Billy and the Irish boxing team on, Adam Nolan's progress will be of particular interest to people across the county. Billy has a long standing relationship with fellow Wexford man Nolan, and the two have already enjoyed success together in the past.
'Myself and Adam have a long association,' he said. 'At 11 he won an Irish title with me and I also trained his brother too. He comes from a great sporting family. Adam has progressed fantastically over the years. He's probably the least experienced member of the team, but in qualifying he's proven that he's a world class boxer and there's no reason that he can't go on and do very well in the tournament.'
Billy, Adam and the rest of the Irish team will spend 11 days in the training camp in Assisi where they will train and spar with members of the Azerbaijani, Ukrainian and Italian teams before returning to London for the beginning of the Olympics on July 27.