Rio 2016 Diary: A new week brings new hope

Off The Ball's Richie McCormack is our man on the ground in Rio...

After Kieran Behan's heroics on Saturday night, it was back to the Gymnastics Arena to catch up with our youngest Olympian, Ellis O'Reilly. Sadly for her, the womens all around competition never ignited and was to end with an horrific landing off the balance beam.

From a competitive perspective, no doubt she would have been disappointed, but looking around the arena it struck me that she should feel proud of her achievements. Here is an 18-year old, forging a new path for women's gymnastics in Ireland. Always a popular TV event back home, I can only imagine scores of girls seeing Ellis out there and thinking "you know what, maybe I can do this too". And here's hoping Ellis gets the better of that balance beam in Tokyo.

Sunday too brought our first successes inside the boxing ring, with confident performances from Stephen Donnelly and David Oliver Joyce. The latter, his Olympic dream having taken so long to materialise, was comfortably and assuredly taking it all in his stride.


Disappointment, and no deal of surprise for those of us who returned to the cavernous Pavilion 6 on Monday with Paddy Barnes' exit at the last-16 stage. Making weight was the issue, but being ultimately outboxed by Heredia cost Paddy dear. He fronted up to the defeat afterwards - for all the joking on Twitter, Barnes is shot through with steel.

The Marina Gloria was my next port of call - a setting as different to the boxing arena as one could get. Covering sport in the shadow of the Sugar Loaf, on the Rio coast is breathtaking. Two years ago, I was redundant - so to be there, man, I couldn't stop shaking my head in disbelief. This is Rio! 

Our competitors out on the water started well. Finn Lynch of Carlow, barely out of his teens and 21st after two races of the Laser. And Annalise Murphy, looking to avenge that cruel 4th in London, starting as well as she could have hoped - winning the first race, holding steady in the second and set fair for another tilt at a medal.

The journey back to base brought with it a winding slug to the gut. As we made our way back up the Linha Amarela motorway, the bus swerves to avoid police attending to an accident. I look out the window, and there, dead on the ground, was a boy who looked no more than 12-years old. This too, is Rio. 

Tuesday began with a series of calls to the studios back home - the first of which woke me from my slumber at 2.35am. The days are definitely starting to overlap, and blend into one another here. Possibly not the best way to be just a week into this thing, but onwards we go. 
 
Tuesday also brought my first trip to the picturesque Lagoa for Sanita Puspure's Single Sculls quarter final. Christ the Redeemer perched above us, imposing mountains on two other sides, and a trip there that went past the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. This is the kind of jaunt that will force people to stop listening to me when I go on about this in the coming years. The length of the journey? Not so much fun. 
 
 
But what of Sanita? She will have to go down as our unluckiest Olympian this year. Needing a top 3 place to qualify for the semi finals, she placed 4th. The most galling aspect being the issue of times - with hers having been good enough to have comfortably WON two of the four quarter finals. She naturally cast a despondent figure afterwards, and it seems we bore witness to her final Olympic medal quest. 
 
Back to the pool then, for Shane Ryan's heat of the 100m freestyle, attempted with a gammy ankle. And then Nicholas Quinn, who was to narrowly miss out on a place in the 200m breaststroke but managed to impress in and out of the water. A proud Mayo man, a proud swimmer and a proud athlete - Quinn spoke eloquently and passionately about his place in the sport, and the sport's place in Ireland. The future is bright, he insists. 
 
 
Finally, to the boxing. A somewhat dispiriting day was to get worse. News came that Michael O'Reilly was to finally accept responsibility for taking a banned substance as part of supplement. Deservedly, and shamefully he's going home. Would that effect David Oliver Joyce? Signs were, "no", but coming up against a better fighter usually only goes one way. And that way was Selimov's. The rest of the week needs to bring some good news... 
 
To keep up to date with Richie in Rio, follow him on Twitter:@RichieMcCormack