As the Artistic Gymnastics ended, I turned my attention and support to Boxing, Women’s Boxing in particular. Gymnastics and boxing, two very different spors you might say, yes but my support was for a more special and personal reason. Women’s boxing made its Olympic debut at London 2012 in three weight categories – flyweight, lightweight and middleweight so that was a special reason in itself.Not only that, the Lightweight (60kg) category starred the 5 time European and 4 time World Champion Katie Taylor, a 26 year old girl from my own home town.
Upon qualifying for the Olympic Games, Katie had been tipped for the gold medal and yesterday evening the nation came to a halt. Businesses closed early, workers stopped working in the later afternoon to tune into the fight at 4.45pm. In fact so many people were tuning into watch the fight that there was a power outage in an area Katie’s home town, which was quickly restored in time for the fight. A massive screen was erected in her local football grounds, where Katie actually used to play with St. Fergal’s Football Club in her younger years (Katie is also a talented football player, previously playing for the Irish Women’s Senior team). Thousands turned out from the local area and further afar, kitted out with face paint,Irish tricolour flags and specially printed tshirts to watch Taylor achieve her dream. Around 5pm yesterday, the news came through that the boxer from Bray had won Ireland’s first Olympic gold since boxer Michael Carruth in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and the first gold medal in the Women’s Lightweight Boxing category. Taylor achieved Olympic glory beating Russia’s Sofya Ochigava in a nerve-racking 10-8 decision.
Katie is the girl next door, from a local council estate, she is deeply religious and believes her faith has led her to achieve her ultimate goal. She is coached by her father, who was a successful amateur boxer. She began boxing at the age of 12. The National Broadcaster RTE have been showing footage of a young Taylor aged 15, stating that she will win an Olympic Gold medal – when the sport was not even an Olympic sport. She has fought hard to achieve her dreamss and with patience, determination, belief and courage has achieved her ultimate goal. During all her years of training, she has not trained in top class facilities like many other athletes in the Olympic Games. In fact, only recently were toilets installed into her club. Previously boxers had to use the bathrooms belonging to the pub next door for changing. Her win will do so much for boxing in Ireland and also women in sport. Like Irish gymnst Kieran Behan, Katie Taylor has certainly done a lot to “inspire a generation” – the message associated with the London 2012 Games. Many will continue to talk about these two remarkable athletes following the conclusion of the Games on Sunday.
Today, we will have another three Irish boxers fighting for Olympic glory. With bronze medals already secured, Paddy Barnes, John Joe Nevin and Michael Conlan will fight to achieve the gold in their semi final bouts. Wishing them the very best of luck – Paddy Barnes at 1.30pm, John Joe Nevin at 2pm, Michael Conlan at 8.45pm. Ireland currently ranks 38th in the medals table. Securing 4 boxing medals to add to our one equestrian medal, means that the London 2012 Games are Ireland’s most successful Games since Melbourne 1956.
A home coming party is scheduled for Katie on Monday on Bray Seafront at 7pm. I’m sure that fans will be out in their thousands to welcome the Olympic Champion home. News of Taylor’s achievements have hit the news worldwide, including the USA, read the New York Times report here.
Image via Getty Images.