Boxer Donnelly hopes for Olympic reprieve

Ballymena boxer Steven Donnelly hopes he can still qualify for next year's Olympic Games.
Ballymena boxer Steven Donnelly hopes he can still qualify for next year's Olympic Games.

Steven Donnelly insists he won’t allow himself to get carried away by his shock second chance to reach next year’s Olympic Games.

Speculation is growing that the Ballymena boxer may yet get his chance to compete in Rio with his fate resting in the hands of what happens in the Russian national championships next month!

Russia have ‘qualified’ boxers via both the World Series of Boxing (Radzhab Butaev) in which Donnelly competed earlier this year and the AIBA Professional Boxing (Andrey Zamkovoy).

As they are unable to send both boxers, Russia will have to decide, either arbitrarily or through a box-off, which of the pair to send.

If the Russian boxing authorities opt to select Zamakovoy, there is a possibility that Butaev’s WSB-obtained slot could be passed down to Donnelly, who finished fourth in his section in WSB.

Many observers would feel that Donnelly would serve this stroke of good fortune after a visa mix-up prevented him from entering Azerbaijan during WSB qualifying, resulting in a defeat which ultimately cost him one of the three qualifying places on offer.

“It would be a dream come true if it works out but I’ll not get too excited,” said Donnelly.

“I was on the verge of hanging up the gloves recently but this has brought a bit of life back into me,” added Steven, who will miss the forthcoming Irish Seniors but hopes to be back fighting in WSB again in January.

Russia have until December 4 to decide which boxer to send so it could be a nail-biting few weeks ahead for Donnelly.