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Why Is Rory McIlroy Representing Ireland In The Olympics?

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Why Is Rory McIlroy Representing Ireland In The Olympics?

Rory McIlroy has made a strong Olympic debut, registering a two-under par at Thursday's opening round and just six points away from Austria's Sepp Straka, who's currently in the lead. But one question that's plaguing everybody's mind is - why is he representing Ireland at the games?

Born in Northern Ireland on 4th May 1989, the four-time major winner started playing golf from the moment he was big enough to hold a golf club. It was his father who introduced him to the sport and it was instant love.

Golf was first introduced to the Olympics in 2016 for Rio. The golfer didn't end up playing in Rio, but he has now said he "probably would have regretted" not taking the opportunity to compete in the Olympics, and this year he's playing for Ireland alongside team mate Shane Lowry.

The 32-year-old has set himself the ambitious goal of competing at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and winning the Masters to complete a career grand slam of all four major championships, according to his profile page on the Olympics website.

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Why is Rory McIlroy representing Ireland in Tokyo?

Rory McIlroy and his teammate Shane Lowry speak during a practice round of the men's golf event at the 2020 Summer Olympics. (Credit: PA)
Rory McIlroy and his teammate Shane Lowry speak during a practice round of the men's golf event at the 2020 Summer Olympics. (Credit: PA)

Since the game was introduced to the Olympics in 2016, McIlroy has been faced with the dilemma of which team he would play for: Team GB or Ireland?

His Northern Irish roots make him eligible to play for either team and what's confusing people about this decision is he's always said he feels "more British than Irish."

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"What makes it such an awful position to be in is I have grown up my whole life playing for Ireland under the Golfing Union of Ireland umbrella," he told MailOnline in 2016, when the question was first raised. "But the fact is, I've always felt more British than Irish."

Rory McIlroy at the third round of the British Open Golf Championship 2021. (Credit: PA)
Rory McIlroy at the third round of the British Open Golf Championship 2021. (Credit: PA)

"Maybe it was the way I was brought up, I don't know, but I have always felt more of a connection with the UK than with Ireland," he added.

"And so I have to weigh that up against the fact that I've always played for Ireland and so it is tough. Whatever I do, I know my decision is going to upset some people but I just hope the vast majority will understand."

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McIlroy hasn't explicitly said why he decided to represent Ireland and not GB. Perhaps it's just easier to stick with tradition?

Regardless though, McIlroy has said he's "not very patriotic" and is at the Olympics to represent the game and not necessarily the country.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Tokyo Olympics, Rory McIlroy

Laura Sanders
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