Could Taylor’s win help or hinder Joe Ward’s London chances
By Ciarán Gallagher
IT GOES without saying that Katie Taylor’s success in bagging a place at London 2012 is a historic achievement in itself. But so much more has also been attached to the ongoing Women’s World Championships that it may yet have a knock-on effect for Irish hopes at the Olympics.
First of all, Taylor’s wins in China will have a direct impact on her chances in London. For the first time at an Olympics, a seeding system will be used in boxing which will see the top six male boxers ranked, but only the top two female fighters will be recognised.
While Taylor is out on her own as the current world No 1 — her wins in Qinhuangdao are most welcome as only two other fighters currently ranked in the world’s top 10 (Brazil’s Adriana Araujo and Russia’s Sofya Ochigava) managed to qualify for the Games.
Since seeding is based on the world governing body’s July rankings, Taylor will almost certainly be placed at No 1. This means she is more likely to avoid a tougher route towards a possible medal, depending on the practicalities of the July 27 draw.
However, a hidden aspect of the ongoing tournament in China has been the strange seeding system which was in place. There were eight seeds assigned at the event, but a number of talented fighters such as Ochigava (previously injured) were not seeded, leaving them to ambush inferior opposition.
And, ironically, the same situation may yet occur in London if Taylor’s latest wish is granted.
The 25-year-old is admirably upset that stellar opposition such as China’s Cheng Dong and Queen Underwood of the US are not due to compete at the Olympics after losing in Qinhuangdao. And Taylor this week backed such rivals to receive wildcards for London, which are due to be handed out over the next month.Either way, highly-skilled opposition would be unseeded.
Meanwhile, Taylor’s campaign could yet also impact on male counterpart Joe Ward — positively or negatively depending on differing opinions.
The general feeling had been that glory in China for Taylor — following on from five Irish male boxers booking spots in London — would not compliment Ward’s chances of bagging at a wildcard as the last male 81kg place was reserved for an athlete from a weaker, developing nation. But, since it is believed that no nation is in fact eligible for the criteria outlined for that Tripartite place, others feel that Taylor’s qualification could in fact help to boost Ward’s chances.
‘It could be good for us. We would be seen as a progressive boxing nation,’ explained a source at the Olympic Council of Ireland on Taylor’s success. ‘But we are working from a very negative position. We want Joe in but there are no promises made at all. It will be very difficult.’
Ward’s position has not changed a great deal since confusion first arose over his eligibility for a wildcard. However, the negative position mentioned above stems from the fact that other nations are not very keen on a fighter of Ward’s quality being thrown in to fight their qualifiers.
Lobbying for Ward depends on whether the remaining place is deemed to be a ‘wildcard’ spot to be handed out by the world boxing body (AIBA) or if it is still a Tripartite selection to be made by the International Olympic Committee’s own group.
The AIBA are expected to confirm what the new criteria for that golden ticket will be once action ends in China this weekend. But a verdict may take a few weeks to be confirmed.
‘We have made our representation to the world body (AIBA) in writing so we just have to wait until after the World Championships to see what the format is going to be from them,’ explained IABA chief Don Stewart.
In the meantime, a waiting game continues before some fateful politicking may take place. Thankfully, such a scenario has at least been avoided by Taylor following her qualification.
*Ciarán Gallagher’s Mail Box column appears every Friday in the Irish Daily Mail- twitter @gallagherbox