August 1, 2012 / 4:45 PM / 5 years ago

Boxing: Irish chase medals, photos with the stars

LONDON (Reuters) - Decorated Olympians beware. Ireland’s boxers are not only chasing medals in London, they are after a prized photograph with you as well.

Light-flyweight Paddy Barnes caused a stir at last week’s opening ceremony when he walked around the track holding a homemade cardboard sign bearing his twitter address and declaring he was ‘open for sponsorship’.

The Belfast-man, a bronze medalist in the 2008 Games, then proceeded to corner multiple grand slam winning tennis player Novak Djokovic and Jamaican sprinters Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell, immediately posting photos with the stars on Twitter.

Barnes, who has also ticked Tyson Gay off his list, even tweeted Powell the picture and with tongue firmly in cheek, said the Jamaican had “tortured” him for it at the ceremony and that he hoped he would hang it in his room.

Bantamweight John Joe Nevin, the first of Ireland’s five male boxers to progress to the quarter-finals, got in on the act on Wednesday, telling reporters about who he had met and revealing a soft spot for the most famous sisters in tennis.

“I met Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy, and they have now seen John Joe Nevin of course,” said Nevin, who met another hero, Rafael Nadal, at the Beijing games.

“I‘m just hoping to see the two Williams sisters and get a picture with them.”

Asked what it was about Venus and Serena that he liked so much, Nevin suddenly turned coy.

“I won’t say that in the newspapers,” he said.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin, editing by Justin Palmer

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