Among the 206 proud athletes flying their countries’ flags at the Opening Ceremony of this year’s Olympic Games will be nine stars of the Rio 2016 boxing competition. Azerbaijan’s Teymur Mammadov, Dieudonne Wilfried Seyi Ntsengue of Cameroon, Jennifer Chieng for Federated States of Micronesia, Iraq’s Waheed Abdulridha, Ireland’s Patrick Barnes, Jordan’s Hussein Eshaish Iashaish, Erkin Adylbek Uulu of Kyrgyzstan, Jonas Junias for Namibia and Uzbekistan’s Bakhodir Jalolov have all been awarded the great honour of leading their team into the Maracanã stadium on 5 August.
A London 2012 bronze medallist at the age of 19, Mammadov has been in superb form over the past 12 months, winning the European Games heavyweight (91kg) gold in Baku last year to set up a strong bid for Olympic glory in Rio de Janeiro. Cameroon’s All Africa Games middleweight (75kg) champion Dieudonne Wilfried Seyi Ntsengue may still be just 18 years old, but his selection underscores the huge rise in boxing’s popularity in the country, and across the African continent, in recent years.
The sole female boxer carrying her nation’s flag will be Jennifer Chieng of the Federated States of Micronesia. The small Oceania country of just over 100,000 people has two athletes taking part in the Games, and lightweight (60kg) Chieng received her invitation to compete from the Tripartite Commission following her campaign at the continental qualifier in China earlier this year.
Another of the men’s middleweight boxers, Iraq’s Waheed Abdulridha Waheed, will lead one of his country’s largest-ever Olympic delegations on 6 August. The experienced southpaw qualified for Rio after a brilliant run at June’s qualification event in Baku, where he beat the likes of Xhek Paskali and Raul Sanchez to the precious quota place.
The Irish team’s Flagbearer will be Patrick Barnes, the light flyweight (49kg) looking for a third consecutive podium finish this year after winning bronze medals in Beijing and London. Ireland’s boxers have brought the country more Olympic-medal success than any other sport in recent editions, and Barnes was suitably honoured to receive the recognition.
“We have had a really strong boxing squad for the last two Olympic Games in Beijing and London, so its a huge honour to have been chosen to fly the flag on behalf of my country. All of us have worked so hard to get to this point, but now it is time to really deliver. I’m going to enjoy the occasion of the Opening Ceremony of course, but I can’t wait to get in the ring for my first bout and start my quest for gold,” said a proud Patrick Barnes ahead of the Games.
The super heavyweight (+91kg) Hussein Eshaish Iashish received the honour from the Jordanian Olympic Team and after a strong World hampionships in Doha, could become the first Olympic medalist in the country’s history in Rio. Flying the flag for Kyrgyzstan will be the light heavyweight (81kg) Erkin Adylbek Uulu. The sole boxer in a squad of 19 athletes, Uulu came through a box-off at the AIBA Asian & Oceanian Olympic Qualification Event in Qian’an, China earlier this year to secure his spot in Rio.
After a silver-medal performance in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Namibia’s Jonas Junias will be targetting a podium finish at light welterweight (64kg) after leading the line for Namibia, and the ninth boxer to take his compatriots into the Maracana on 5 August will be Uzbekistan’s Bakhodir Jalolov. The super heavyweight (+91kg) won bronze at the 2015 AIBA World Championships, and has received the great honour of leading 70 of his his country’s top athletes at the 2016 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.