McIlroy claims he still has to make a decision on who to play for at Rio 2016
Monday, 10 September 2012
September 10 - Rory McIlroy has published an open letter today claiming that he still has not made a decision about which country he will compete for at the Rio 2016 Olympics when golf makes its return to the programme after a 104-year absence, despite appearing to favour Britain ahead of Ireland.
The 23-year-old world number one, who won a second consecutive PGA Tour event yesterday, is eligible to compete for both Britain and Ireland.
Under the Olympic Charter athletes from Northern Ireland are eligible to compete for either Ireland or Britain.
In an open letter on his Twitter account he said he was in "an extremely sensitive and difficult position".
It followed an interview published in the Mail on Sunday yesterday in which he seemed to pledge his future to Britain.
In the letter, McIlroy said: "Having just won three out of my last four tournaments, including a second major championship, I was hoping that my success on the golf course would be the more popular topic of golfing conversation today!
"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."
Both Ireland and Britain are courting McIlroy to spearhead their team in Rio when golf makes its first appearance at the Olympics since St Louis in 1904.
"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," the 23-year-old from Hollywood in County Down told the Mail on Sunday.
"But the fact is, I've always felt more British than Irish.
"Whatever I do, I know my decision is going to upset some people but I just hope the vast majority will understand,"
McIlroy's win at the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Indiana, yesterday came seven days after his Deutsche Bank Championship triumph.
The victories added to his Major triumphs in the 2011 US Open and PGA Championship last month.
In his open letter which followed the Mail on Sunday article, McIlroy described himself as a "proud product of Irish golf and the Golfing Union of Ireland".
However he added: "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.
"As an international sportsman, I am very lucky to be supported by people all over the world, many of who treat me as one of their own, no matter what their nationality, or indeed mine.
"This is the way sport should be.
"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."
August 2011: McIlroy's undecided about which country he would represent in Rio
June 2011: Mike Rowbottom - Who will claim the Boy Wonder McIlroy for Rio 2016?