Michael Conlan named BBC Sport NI Personality of 2015

Michael Conlan thrilled to win BBC Sport NI 2015 award

Belfast boxer Michael Conlan has fought off strong competition to be named BBC Northern Ireland's Sports Personality of 2015.

Conlan, 24, became Ireland's first male World Amateur Boxing champion in 2015 after also booking his Rio Olympic berth and clinching European gold.

A memorable year also saw Conlan become a father for the first time.

Conlan edged out Northern Ireland football captain Steven Davis and World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea.

2012 Olympic bronze medallist Conlan said he was "very grateful to win the award".

"It's great to achieve it when you see the calibre of sporting greats that have won this award before.

"But if I hadn't won any award this year, I'd have been a bit disappointed," added the bantamweight, who beat Murodjon Akhmadaliev of Uzbekistan in the world final in Doha in October.

Northern Ireland football captain Steven Davis starred as his country qualified for Euro 2016
Conlan pipped Northern Ireland football captain Steven Davis to land the BBC Sport NI award

"I'm very, very competitive. And I think what I've done this year is phenomenal so to see that being recognised is great.

"It's been a fantastic 12 months. I qualified for Rio twice, through the World Series of Boxing and then winning the World Championship.

"Winning the world championship was 10 times better because no other Irish male fighter had done that before me.

"I also had a wee baby girl and got engaged plus I won a European gold as well."

Jane Tohill, executive producer at BBC Sport NI, said judging panel were faced with a "tough decision in a remarkable year for Northern Ireland sport".

"Michael Conlan's achievements in 2015 have been exceptional," she said.

"The judging panel for BBC Sport NI are delighted to present Michael with this award.

"He continues to inspire young people in the world of boxing and we salute his hard work and success."

I'm going to win Olympic gold - Conlan

With Conlan winning Commonwealth Games gold in Glasgow last year, the Belfast man needs an Olympic title to complete a full set of major triumphs and he is in no doubt that he will achieve that feat in Rio next August.

"I don't feel any pressure heading towards the Olympic Games because I know I'm going to win a gold medal. I know it.

"It's not pressure on me. It gives me confidence.

"I'll be coming back with the gold medal. Once I do, that's my career kick-started into the pro ranks."

Joining Tohill on the judging panel for the BBC Sport NI award were The Belfast Telegraph's Steven Beacom, Kenny Archer from The Irish News, The Newsletter's Richard Mulligan plus Margaret O'Hare, senior producer BBC Sport, and Shane Glynn, managing editor BBC Northern Ireland Productions.

Conlan will be among the sports stars attending Sunday's BBC's Sports Personality of the Year, which is being held for the first time in Belfast at the SSE Arena.

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