Rory To Play For Ireland at Olympics
By Torleif Sorenson on 6/18/14
Rory McIlroy announced earlier this morning that he will compete for Ireland at the 2016 Olympic Summer Games at Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The two-time major champion revealed his decision at a pre-tournament press conference at the Irish Open:
"I have been thinking about it a lot. I don't know if it is because the World Cup is in Brazil and I was thinking a couple of years down the line.

"I was thinking about all the times I have played for Ireland as a boy and everything. For me it is the right decision to play for Ireland.

"I was always just worried about what other people would think when actually it's your decision at the end of the day and you have to take ownership of it and be comfortable with it. That was the decision I was most comfortable with and the decision that I wanted to make.

"I'm very happy with my decision and I'm looking forward now to the Olympics in a couple of years' time — if I qualify, obviously, for the team."
His announcement ends part of a kerfuffle that has deep social and political ramifications on the Emerald Isle. This is because McIlroy was born in Holywood, County Down in Northern Ireland — and he maintains a home in the nearby town of Moneyreagh. For those of you who are not aware, Northern Ireland has had a long and contentious history since the partition of Ireland in 1920.

Nathan first brought you the issue about two years ago, when questions were raised about whether McIlroy would play for Team Great Britain (which includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland), or to play for Team Ireland at Rio.

In October of 2012, McIlroy straddled the proverbial fence:
"What makes it such an awful position to be in is I have grown up my whole life playing for Ireland under the Golfing Union of Ireland umbrella. But the fact is, I've always felt more British than Irish.

"Maybe it was the way I was brought up, I don't know, but I have always felt more of a connection with the UK than with Ireland. And so, I have to weigh that up against the fact that I've always played for Ireland and so it is tough. Whatever I do, I know my decision is going to upset some people but I just hope the vast majority will understand.'
Then in April, 2013, R&A chief executive Peter Dawson stepped into the fray:
"I think because Rory's history of playing for Ireland at amateur level and, I think at World Cup level, that there may be a regulation within the Olympic rules that would require him to stay with that. It's quite ambiguous really, but there is a rule that a player who has represented one nation at a previous world championships from certain countries, that carries with you."
Dawson failed to point to a statute, although the Olympic Charter, Rule 41, Paragraph 1 says this:
However, after having represented one country in the Olympic Games, in continental or regional games or in world or regional championships recognised by the relevant IF [International Federation], he may not represent another country unless he meets the conditions set forth in paragraph 2 below that apply to persons who have changed their nationality or acquired a new nationality.
And since McIlroy played for Team Ireland at the men's 2006 World Amateur Team Championship (a.k.a. the Eisenhower Trophy) and in 2009 and 2011 at the World Cup of Golf in China, this probably sealed the deal. McIlroy, however, has previously identified himself as a British subject and carries a British passport.

Rory has made his decision, but for people on both sides of the debate, the arguments and controversy will undoubtedly continue. But one person who is overjoyed at this news is the president of the Olympic Council of Ireland, Pat Hickey:
"On behalf of Team Ireland, I am thrilled at the news that Rory will declare for Ireland for the Rio Games. His amazing sporting talent, brilliant personality and endless energy will give all our athletes a huge boost. He is an iconic figure in world sport and will be very warmly welcomed by all the Irish team members, no matter what sport they represent. This is great news for Ireland's medal prospects for Rio 2016."
No kidding.

Read more

Read an interesting golf story? Tip Your Editor!

Images via Twitter, Olympic Council of Ireland

[ comments ]
birdieXris says:
I can't believe an entire day went by and nobody posted on Tiger woods hitting full shots again?
[ post comment ]
    New Products
    Caption This
    World Am
    How Bizarre!
Most Popular: