Dressage, dancing bears and Katie Taylor
WAITING in anticipation for the seminal Olympic lightweight final clash between Ireland’s Katie Taylor and Russia’s Sofya Ochigava, we were distracted by the sight of a dancing horse on TV.
The sport of “Dressage” is something we’ve always been aware of but never paid much attention to. A bit like a child doing a knick-knack on a pretentious neighbour, for Grannykiller.com, dressage exists only to be made fun of.
Another person being picked on lately has been Russian journalist Slava Malamud who was seemingly lambasted by a number of Irish people on Twitter for having the audacity to publish some comments from Ochigava which were quite disparaging towards Taylor.
In fairness to Malamud, he was only keeping to his journalistic duties and anyone, Irish or not, who offended him for doing so really is an idiot (he’s doing his job, for God’s sake). The offending comments were matched by a number of retorts from the reporter relating to ‘Paddys’ and dismissive (if not deliberately offensive) remarks about Ireland’s national game of hurling.
This got us thinking about ludicrous national stereotypes and when it comes to Russia, the immediate stereotype for entertainment that springs to mind is a dancing bear.
Most of us will have seen the bizarre videos with Yogi Bear doing his best efforts at the foxtrot while some manic-eyed handler fingers a whip/rope/lasso with ominous intent. And this made Grannykiller wonder – if dressage allows dancing horses to claim gold – why doesn’t the IOC allow dancing bears a moment of Olympic glory?
Well the moment finally came as a dancing bear lost out to Taylor in that lightweight final.
We mean not to mock the excellent boxing skills of Sofya Ochigava, or her (quite attractive) looks, but we do deride her pre and post-fight etiquette for having all the grace, poise and humbleness of Yogi Bear on ice.
“Ireland is in a financial crisis because they’ve spent all their money on Taylor’s referees,” claimed the classy Russian before the bout, adding her charming opinion that “[Taylor] wets herself against some boxers.”
This coming from the woman who claimed a highly controversial 8-1 win over the world champion at a Grand Prix tournament in 2010.
After today’s final, Ochigava stood, arms folded on the podium, like an unruly schoolgirl, watching with bitterness as a classmate who had actually went to the bother of studying was awarded a prize for her efforts. Frankly, it was sad – mainly because Ochigava’s own performance, and the final itself, deserved better than being analysed as a moment for sore losers.
The fight was as tight as could be. Personally speaking, Grannykiller preferred the most recent World Championship final meeting between the great rivals, which was also a tactical affair, but was not quite as tense as the Olympic final.
In the opening round, there were very few punches thrown as the fighters sized each other up and a nervous aura increased with every Ochigava step and Taylor bounce as they moved around the ring. The Russian landed the first meaningful punch of the round around the halfway point before connected with an overhand right with less than 30 seconds left in the round, while the world champion also hit Ochigava with another big right on the bell. The round ended all square, 2-2.
The Russian, a former World featherweight champion, deservedly edged the second (2-1) to move into the lead after an even cagier round, with less punches and plenty of holding from Taylor. However, the Irish woman took the initiative in the third, working well on the inside with short jabs and hooks on the counter, to move ahead by two points overall heading into the last round.
Taylor slipped twice to the canvas in the fourth, drawing more than a few gasps of concern from the huge Irish crowd in attendance at London’s ExCel Arena. But while Ochigava landed some sporadic and great shots during the round, Taylor matched her cleanest punches with point-scoring efforts of her own.
Although Grannykiller scored the contest two points in Taylor’s favour (12-10 to the official score of 10-8), we would not have been surprised if the bout had finished level and went to a countback – a feeling which was also articulated by Taylor.
“I thought I landed the cleaner punches, but it was such a close contest, it could have gone either way,” said the new Olympic champion.
It was a gracious statement from Taylor, who did not feel the need to respond to Ochigava’s earlier rant. The winner takes it all, Sofya, the winner takes it all.