A West Belfast boxing club has spoken of its pride after watching one of its own take centre stage at the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics.
Brendan Irvine helped carry the Irish flag alongside fellow boxer Kellie Harrington as the delayed 2020 Games were officially declared open on Friday.
Irvine – affectionately known as the Wee Rooster – will begin his men’s flyweight campaign against Carlo Paalam of the Philippines on Monday, July 26 at 4:03am UK time.
It will be the 25-year-old’s second Olympic Games after he fought in Rio four years ago.
And there will be plenty of support cheering him on from his home club in Andersonstown, St Paul’s ABC.
“Look at this club, it is nothing big and fancy. It is a wee, small room and this is where an Olympian was made – not once, but twice,” St Paul’s coach Francis McNally told BBC Radio Ulster.
“And that’s why we are so proud. From this wee room, we have about 300 sq ft with not much equipment, Brendy was able to dig in.
“And it just shows with boxing, it comes from within. It doesn’t matter about fancy equipment and big gyms, it comes from within, and that’s why we’re so proud of him.
“He has done it from this wee gym here in West Belfast.”
Boxers Brendan Irvine and Kellie Harrington
McNally added: “I think he is feeling immensely proud. he isn’t just there because of his talent. He is there because of his personality and the way he conducts himself.
“Not only in this club, but on the international scene and for the Irish squad. He is an inspiration, not just to not just kids from this club but to everyone from this area.
“He is an inspirational young man for just 25 years old.”
A number of St Paul’s ABC’s future Olympians will be cheering on Irvine when he embarks on his medal mission in Tokyo.
They told the BBC: “He is going to win a gold medal.
“He comes from our club and he represents our club and country. That’s why we’re so proud of him.
“We want to be like Brendan Irvine.”