Moate man Joe Ward has secured a silver medal at the world boxing championships and qualified for next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio.
The 21-year-old put in a solid effort to defeat Elshod Rasulov of Uzbekistan in the semi-final of the competition in Doha. Ward dominated his opponent throughout, being awarded every round by the three ringside judges.
Ward’s opponent came out of the blocks quickly in the opening round. However, a cut over his eye may have slowed him down, with Ward taking and maintain control of the contest thereafter. He will now fight two-time world champion Julio la Cruz in the final on Thursday.
The man from Moate is no stranger to success on the European and international stage. Ward won his first major gold medal in 2009 at the World Junior Championships in Yerevan, Armenia, defeating Hayk Khachatryan in the Light-Middleweight final.
In May 2010, Ward won his second world title at the World Youth Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. He defeated Australia’s Damien Hooper in the final, this time at middleweight. At the 2011 European Amateur Boxing Championships in Ankara, Ward defeated Nikita Ivanov in the Light-Heavyweight final to take the gold medal.
In October 2013, at 19 years of age, Ward won a bronze medal at the World Amateur Boxing Championships in Almaty. However, having missed out on qualification for London 2012, Ward will achieve his long-time ambition when he steps into the ring representing his country at next year’s Olympic Games.
Speaking after his victory, Ward said qualifying for the Olympics is “a dream come true” after being written off by some: “A lot of people wrote me off in a way, but I knew myself I’d stick with it. Eddie Bolger [coach] stuck with me, my family at home, my kids, and my girlfriend motivated me to keep going, and I got what I wanted. That’s my dream, to go to an Olympic Games, and I’ve got a World silver medal.”