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McIlroy writes open letter to calm Olympic debate

ESPN staff
September 10, 2012 « Coe to stand for BOA chairman role | Chartbeat test »

Rory McIlroy moved to correct reports over his future allegiance at the 2016 Olympic Games on Monday, after it was claimed that he would select Great Britain over Ireland in Rio.

McIlroy, the current world No. 1, won the BMW Championship at the weekend to cement his position at the top of the FedEx standings. Victory came hot on the heels of his recent triumph at the US PGA Championship.

However, rather than those successes dominating the headlines, McIlroy has faced reports over his projected loyalties at the Rio Olympic Games, which will see the return of golf. He was recently quoted as saying, "I have always felt more of a connection with the UK than with Ireland," prompting predictions that he was ready to turn his back on Ireland.

However, McIlroy released an open letter via his Twitter account on Monday, insisting no decision has been made regarding the 2016 Games. He also attempted to explain that he feels loyalty not only to Britain and Ireland, but also the US as he continues to become a global icon.

"Having just won three out of my last four tournaments, including a second major championship, I was hoping my success on the golf course would be the more popular topic of golfing conversation today!" McIlroy's letter began. "However, the issue of my cultural identity has re-emerged, and with it, the matter of my national allegiance ahead of the Rio Olympics in 2016.

"I am in an extremely sensitive and difficult position ... I am a proud product of Irish golf and the Golfing Union of Ireland and am hugely honoured to have come from very rich Irish sporting roots. I am also a proud Ulsterman who grew up in Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. That is my background and always will be.

"I receive huge support from both Irish and British sports fans alike and it is greatly appreciated.

"Likewise, I feel like I have a great affinity with American sports fans. I play most of my golf in the US nowadays and I am incredibly proud to have won both the US Open and the US PGA Championship. As an international sportsman, I am very lucky to be supported by people all over the world, many of whom treat me as one of their own, no matter what their nationality, or indeed mine. This is the way sport should be.

"Since turning pro at 18 I have travelled the world playing the game I love and I consider myself a global player. As the world No. 1 right now, I wish to be a positive role model and sportsperson that people respect, and enjoy watching.

"I wish to clarify that I have absolutely not made a decision regarding my participation in the next Olympics. On a personal level, playing in the Olympics would be a huge honour. However, the Games in Rio are still four years away and I certainly won't be making any decisions with regards to participating any time soon.

"The Olympics will be great for the growth of golf on a global scale, but my focus right now is on being the best player I can be, trying to win major championships and contributing to what will hopefully be a victorious European side at the Ryder Cup."

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