Taylor finally sets her sights on Olympic Gold
By Jonny Stapleton
Katie Taylor can finally set her sights on draping Olympic gold around her neck and can do so from a top of the world vantage point.
Gold and not diamonds seem to be Taylor’s best friend and one of Ireland’s greatest ever sports stars claimed her 13th major tournament gold in China today. She defeated talented Russian Sofya Ochigava 11-7 in a tense tactical bout and can finally divert her attention to the one that matters most.
The greatest amateur female boxing talent on the planet was paramount in ensuring women’s boxing was inducted into the Olympics. Indeed as soon as it was revealed the female of the boxing species would be doing battle in London 2012 people were predicting Taylor would ensure a rare Olympic gold for Ireland.
Taylor, however was always keen to stress qualifying games was her sole focus and was even more adamant when declaring passage to London wouldn’t be smooth.
However, speaking to RTE today after her fourth world title success she spoke about her Olympic ambitions with real conviction for the first time.
“For the last couple of years people have been wishing me well for the Olympics and I have had to tell them that I hadn’t qualified yet. And there was so much pressure on me going into this competition and it’s just a big relief to finally qualify and to be going into the Olympics as the current world champion. I am delighted to be going into the Olympics as the current world champion and as I said I will have to keep improving over the next few weeks. Hopefully I will be better than ever and I will come back with that gold medal for my country,” Taylor said.
Taylor has been the dominant force in women’s boxing for over four years now. She is the poster girl and standard bearer, but she is adamant that benchmark she has set is within reach of a number of female fighters around the world.
Today’s decider certainly wasn’t a routine win for the 25 year old Irish sporting legend in the making. The finalist were level after two rounds and the Russian launched and landed some torpedo rights throughout the bout. The former Irish football international did kick on in the latter rounds and her class ensured a place on the top of the podium.
Taylor is expecting similarly tough challenges in London and as a result believes irish fight fans should check their expectation levels. The Bary fighter warns won’t be the only fighter capable of claiming invaluable metals such as gold, silver and bronze in three months time.
“It was always going to be a tricky fight. She is absolutely brilliant that girl is. She is so tricky. It was just a game of patience in the end. I just want to thank god for the victory. I am delighted to win another world title. It was always going to be a game of nerves,” she added. “In those type of fights you just don’t know what is going to happen, it is just one or two points that can make the difference. I thought I landed a couple of clean shots in the third to get me a lead going into the last round, but with those kind of fights you need such concentration and discipline. That is the standard I am at and people always say I am a given for a gold medal, but these kind of fights prove just how good women’s boxing is. Those fights are so tough and a couple of fights made a difference at the end. The last time I boxed that girl I only beat her by five points and the time before that she beat me. I have to keep improving. Everyone around keeps improving so its important I keep on improving and getting stronger.”
Taylor may have stated she like all those panning rivers in the great gold rushes is not guaranteed success in London, but that won’t stop her trying.
The five time European and four time World champion will join Ireland’s latest batch of boxing Olympians Darren O’Neill, Michael Conlan, Paddy Barnes, John Joe Nevin and Adam Nolan in training after a short break and she claims they will all be working towards a successful London raid.
“We will train with the five lads who have qualified already. It is great that six of us are going to the Olympics and we have a great chance of getting six medals.”