Did anyone see Paddy Barnes' Olympic boxing semi-final at noon today? Most of you will have been at work or busy with other stuff so there's a report and video of it here. The poor little fella (I call him that not in a patronising way but because I am literally twice his weight and would still get my ass kicked by him so it makes me feel better) lost 15-0 to a Chinese boxer but stll gets a bronze medal for having made it to the semis. Interviewed straight after the fight by that irritating Marty Morrissey a clearly gutted Barnes gave out about the judges having failed to give him a single point (he was probably right but all the generosity in the world wouldn't have changed the outcome of that fight). Morrissey tried to console him with a sentence of along the lines of "Sure, you've got a bronze medal anyway, haven't you done terribly well?"
Barnes' response endeared him to me hugely: "Sure they can keep that for all I care." At this awkward point the embarrassingly bad Morrissey asked him to repeat what he'd just said and he goes "Bronze medals are for losers." Morrissey insanely pursued his line of telling him how great it was too get one, clearly unaware that only 20 minutes earlier the young man would have been standing in his dressing room dreaming of a gold medal around his neck and a welcoming ceremony on the streets of Belfast. He may well get that last part anyway. But, in this context, he's absolutely right about bronze medals being for losers. Both beaten semi-finalists get one. If ever there was a good example as to why there should be a bronze medal pay-off in boxing it was that. Wounded and beaten semi-finalists would get a chance to avenge their honour and proud sportsmen like Barnes would be able to feel like they had earned that bronze medal. Or not, as the case might be. How can you be third if there are two of you? Plenty of Olympic sports, such as football, hockey and tennis have bronze medal play-offs so why not in boxing?
And when will TV channels learn that it is unfair to interview athletes straight after a devastating defeat (and devastating is the nature of all defeats to real competitors)? Barnes will almost certainly learn to be thankful for his bronze medal but why did RTÉ have to help turn it into a moment of shame for him?