Belfast's Paddy Barnes confident of Olympic qualification

Belfast's Paddy Barnes says he can handle the weight of expectation and reach the Olympic Games in London.

Light-flyweight Barnes needs to retain the Irish Championship and then seal his London place at April's final qualifying event in Turkey.

"I have every reason to be confident - there are five places available in Turkey," said the 24-year-old.

"Really, I have been under pressure since winning gold in 2008, but I am number one in Europe."

The draw for the Irish Championships is on Friday, 20 January with the finals night being staged on 3 February.

Barnes missed out on clinching an Olympics place in October when he was beaten by Mark Barriga of the Philippines at the World Amateur Championships in Azerbaijan.

The Belfast man, Commonwealth and European champion in 2010, blamed almost a year without competitive fights for the defeat.

"I thought I was going to in gold in Baku, but I had had a long absence from the ring and it took its toll. I felt lost in the ring."

Barnes need to be the Irish number one to have a crack at the Olympics qualifying event in Istanbul.

"The ball is in my court," he said.

"I have beaten all these guys before and I know I will qualify."

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