Mullingar residents will be watching RTE's coverage of the Beijing Olympics with bated breath this weekend as local boxer John Joe Joyce contests preliminary matches tomorrow (Saturday ) and Sunday.
The 20 year-old light welterweight boxer, who boxes for St Michael's Club in Kildare, was born in Limerick into a family with a strong boxing tradition. John Joe has won 14 Irish titles between various junior and senior ranks, and was crowned European bronze medallist in both 2005 and 2006.
He has been Irish senior champion for the past three years, and secured qualification at the last chance tournament in Athens in April. The Mullingar man made the last eight at the 2006 World Championships. A third preliminary match is scheduled for August 14, while the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and final are scheduled for August 17, 22, and 23.
Meanwhile, Mullingar's other boxing medal hopeful John Joe Nevin has his first preliminary match next Tuesday, with a second preliminary match next Friday.
The bantamweight's quarter-final, semi-final, and final are on August 18, 22, and 24. The 18-year-old who boxes with Cavan Boxing Club, is one of Ireland's most exciting teenage boxing talents. His rapid rise through the junior champion ranks last year to Irish senior champion in 2008, was highlighted when he secured his Olympic qualification in Italy last February. The youngest Irish team member in Beijing, he is a highly promising prospect for the London Olympics in 2012.
Twenty-five year-old Martin Fagan, is Ireland's first Olympic marathon representative since 1992. He was coached at Providence College, Rhode Island, under Ray Treacy, a brother of well-known Irish athlete John Treacy. In September 2007, Martin Fagan moved to Flagstaff, Arizona. He competes in the marathon event on August 24.