Rory McIlroy chooses Ireland over Britain for 2016 Olympics

June 19, 2014

Rory McIlroy celebrates a berdie during the first round of the Irish Open. (Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy has made his decision and it isn’t going to please everyone.

McIlroy, who is from Northern Ireland, announced that he will play for Ireland, not Britain, in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and explained his choice before starting play in the Irish Open in Cork.

”I have been thinking about the decision a lot and remembered all the times I represented Ireland as an amateur,” McIlroy told reporters. ”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.”

McIlroy was in a complicated position and considered skipping the Olympics. He once said he considered himself to be more British than Irish, but because he is a citizen of Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, he can hold dual citizenship. Most of the Protestant majority in Northern Ireland is British, most of the Catholic minority is Irish. McIlroy, a Catholic, grew up in a largely Protestant community.

It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that McIlroy has played for Ireland in the World Cup.

”Just because I’m getting paid to play this great game now doesn’t mean I should change [teams],” McIlroy said. ”So I’m very happy with my decision. It means I can look forward to the Olympics in a couple of years’ time — you know, if I qualify, obviously, for the team. I just thought it was the right thing to do. It was the right time to let everyone know. Now I’m really looking forward to Rio in ’16.”

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Cindy Boren · June 19, 2014