BELFAST'S Brendan Irvine will be joined by fellow boxer Kellie Harrington as Ireland's joint-flagbearers for Friday's Olympic Games' Opening Ceremony in Tokyo (midday, Irish time).

The Glencolin man will captain the seven-strong Irish boxing team having competed at the Rio Games in 2016 and along with the 2018 World lightweight champion Harrington, they will continue the trend of boxers carrying the flag at the Opening Ceremony after Paddy Barnes (2016) and Katie Taylor in the past two Olympics, while Wayne McCullough had the honour in Seoul back in 1988.

Team Ireland named the two flagbearers who will carry the Irish flag in the athlete’s parade in what is a monumental move in the Olympic family to strive for gender equality, with all participating nations have been invited to nominate a male and female athlete to carry the flag. 

Boxing is Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport, with 16 of the 31 Irish medals having been won by boxers. Irvine is competing in his second Olympic Games.

Speaking on her selection, Harrington said: “This means so much to me, to be able to represent not only myself as a person, but as a boxer, for boxing, for my family and for Ireland. 

"It’s an amazing honour, there are so many athletes out here, and to be chosen as one of the flagbearers is absolutely fantastic. I can’t believe it really. Walking out there and realising I’m the flagbearer, it’s the start of the Olympic Games, and I’m at the pinnacle of our sport.”

Irvine went to Rio as the youngest member of the team, aged just 20, but the St Paul's ABC flyweight returns five years later as part of an elite band who have been to two Olympic Games.

“I know Brendy a long time now, and he is a fantastic person," added Harrington.

"He is what you call a leader; he leads the team. I’m so happy that it’s him out there with me. I just know we will be looking at each other and smiling. We will be feeling so proud, and I know his family and friends and community are quite like mine and everyone will be so proud of our achievements. I’m absolutely delighted.”