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Rory McIlroy to play for Ireland at 2016 Olympics

Updated: Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 21:25 | Comments

Rory McIlroy has already represented Ireland at two previous instalments of the World Cup of Golf
Rory McIlroy has already represented Ireland at two previous instalments of the World Cup of Golf

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Rory McIlroy has revealed that he will represent Ireland at Rio 2016 when golf returns to the Olympics after a 112-year absence. 

Earlier this year, McIlroy indicated that he was still undecided as to whether he would commit to Britain or Ireland in Brazil.

The 25-year-old even suggested he could miss the Games in order to avoid the potential controversy surrounding his choice. 

"I've been thinking about it a lot," McIlroy told an Irish Open pre-tournament press conference at Fota Island.

"I don't know whether it's been because the World Cup has been in Brazil and I've been thinking a couple of years down the line.

"Thinking about all the times that I played as an amateur for Ireland and as a boy and everything, I think for me it's the right decision to play for Ireland in 2016."

McIlroy had previously spoken of being in an "extremely sensitive and difficult position" over the decision, releasing an open letter on his Twitter account in September 2012 in response to quotes attributed to him which said he felt "more British than Irish".

Asked if he had been "torn" on the issue, the former world number one added today: "More worried about what other people would think, rather than me. But you've got to do what's right for yourself and what you feel most comfortable with, and ultimately that was the decision that I made.

"I was always very proud to put on the Irish uniform and play as an amateur and as a boy, and I would be very proud to do it again.

"Just because now that I'm playing golf for money and I'm a professional, I'm supposed to have this choice or this decision to make, where if you look at the rugby players, you look at cricketers or hockey players, they view Ireland as one, the same as we do in golf.

"I don't think there's any point to change that or go against that just because it's a different event or it's the Olympics.

"I've had a lot of time on my own the last few weeks and just been thinking about it a lot. It's something that's been quite important to me and something that I needed to make some sort of decision or some sort of stand on it.

"Just weighing up everything, and thinking back about the times that I played for Ireland and won the European Team championship with Ireland, won a lot of great amateur titles representing Ireland, I just thought why change that? Basically it's just a continuation of what I've always done."

President of the OCI Pat Hickey commented: "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."

Watch Live Online coverage: Irish Open on RTE.ie, Republic of Ireland only (Thursday 19 June from 11.15am, Friday 20 June from 10.05am, Saturday 21 June from 12.50pm and Sunday 22 June from 12.10pm)

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