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Rory McIlroy feels he has 'mat...
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Rory McIlroy feels he has 'matured' enough to make Olympic decision

Ann-Marie Donelan
Ann-Marie Donelan

10:39 10 Dec 2019

Three-and-a-half years on from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Ulsterman Rory McIlroy is preparing to represent Ireland at next year's games in Tokyo.

The 30-year-old Co. Down native was eligible to play in Rio de Janeiro but, along with a number of the world’s leading players, decided not to play due to fears about the Zika virus.

McIlroy originally made a declaration back in 2014 that he would play for Ireland and, although also having the choice to represent Britain, he reaffirmed in May of this year that he will represent Ireland.

He has said his reasoning behind this is seeing golf as an all-island sport, similar to rugby and hockey.

Speaking to NBC Golf, the three-time Major winner has outlined how he came to make the decision and why he feels now is the right time for him to play at an Olympic Games.

"It's a maturing thing. The Olympics put me in a little bit of an awkward situation. I had to dig deep within myself and ask questions that I'd never asked myself before.

"'Where do my loyalties lie? Where am I from? What does that mean to me? What does the other side mean?'

"It weighed heavily on me and then I started to resent the Olympics because of what it put upon me.

"I realise now I can't please everyone; if you go through life trying to make everyone happy you're going to be miserable yourself, so I just had to do what is right for me and I didn't want to let other people prohibit me from experiencing something I've never experienced before."

The former world number one has also expressed his excitement and enthusiasm about the new experiences playing at an Olympics will bring.

"I think Japan is going to be awesome, we obviously had the ZoZo there a few weeks ago and the golf fans in Japan are so enthusiastic so to play an Olympic Games in Japan is going to be really exciting, I'm looking forward to it.

"I've been on tour 12 or 13 years. To be 12 years in your career and to have the ability to experience something for the first time is pretty cool."

McIlroy will be joined on the course in Japan by Offaly native Shane Lowry.

The 32-year-old, who won his first Major this summer, has said he'd relish the chance to carry the tricolour at the opening ceremony if asked.

McIlroy is pleased that Lowry has given his commitment to the Irish team.

"I'm not going to go that early, I'll go maybe the weekend before and catch a couple of the other sporting events. One of the big things I'm looking forward to is spending the week with Shane Lowry.

"Shane and I have got a wonderful relationship. He's obviously had a great year winning the Open in Portrush.

"Shane's wife Wendy is going to come and my wife Erika, we're going to spend the week together and feel that comradery a little bit."

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