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Defeat And Criticism Are Not Going To Change Paddy Barnes And We Love Him For It

Defeat And Criticism Are Not Going To Change Paddy Barnes And We Love Him For It
By PJ Browne

Where Paddy Barnes lost his opening fight of the Olympics is clear - it was on the scales.

After the fight, an incredibly honest Barnes revealed his lack of energy during the fight. He emptied the reserve tank in an attempt to beat Samuel Carmona Heredia. It did not work and he admitted a fear that, had he somehow managed to beat the Spaniard, he would have been embarrassed in the quarter-finals.

Light flyweight (49kg) is no longer a division which suits the 29-year-old. A possibly slowing metabolism has made it tougher each year for him to hit the required weight.

Sapped of energy, he was not the same fighter we have come to love watching - in and out of the ring.

What makes Barnes so appealing is not just him being an elite boxer but also an entertaining personality. So often we decry sports stars for being automatons; tough to relate to individuals bereft of the type of personality Barnes radiates.

The interview on RTÉ, where he spoke with a reflective and sharply honest clarity, undoubtedly won him fans. He could have made excuses - he did not. He could have refused to even do the interview - he did not. Instead, he offered us an insight into his personal feelings, a real privilege when it comes to top level athletes these days.

Following Barnes' loss on Monday evening, criticism was fired his way over his use of Twitter - his preferred medium for expressing his humour online.

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His good mood - despite the weight worries - was evident in the the build-up to the Games. Rory McIlroy - all in good humour - was a preferred target.

Barnes and social media have gone hand-in-hand ever since the Olympics four years ago. It's who he is. Barnes tweeting before and during these Games had absolutely nothing to do with the defeat.

His bronze medal win in London was accompanied by a regular online presence. You may remember him unabashedly promoting his Twitter account on his protein shake container during interviews on RTÉ. It was not a factor then, it was not a factor on Monday.

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Even RTÉ last night, as they showed short highlights of the Irish in action on day three of the games, seemed to have an unnecessary go at his use of Twitter.

Attempting to suggest that Barnes's activity online was a factor in his loss is an absurdly simplistic argument. Athletes require a release. For the Belfast man, it's Twitter. Do people think he should be sparring 16 hours per day during the Olympics? That type of preparation was done long before the Games. When competitors are out there, it's about staying relaxed.

What's obvious is that defeat and the ridiculous denunciation of him is not going to cow Barnes. In the early hours of the morning Irish time, just nine or so hours after his loss, he was back on Twitter.

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It was a moment of beautifully self-deprecating humour.

Paddy Barnes will continue to have fun and we love him for it.

Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

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