Saturday 10 December 2016

Katie Taylor slams golfers over 'excuses' to skip Olympics

Makes comments as Shane Lowry becomes latest Irish golfer to drop out of Olympics 'due to the Zika virus'

Ryan Nugent

Published 29/06/2016 | 02:30

London 2012 gold medallist Katie Taylor is among those to criticise the decision of the golfers. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
London 2012 gold medallist Katie Taylor is among those to criticise the decision of the golfers. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

OLYMPIC champion boxer Katie Taylor has slammed professional golfers for making “excuses” and withdrawing from the Olympics in Rio.

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Offaly golfer Shane Lowry became the latest star to pull out of the games in Brazil due to fears surrounding the Zika virus, only seven days after Irish superstar Rory McIlroy also withdrew.

Yesterday afternoon, Lowry made a statement online regarding his reasons for withdrawing – it came minutes after Taylor had taken a pop at the sportsmen when she heard of Australian Jason Day’s withdrawal.

She tweeted: “Another one bites the dust. I wonder what excuse the golfers would have made if there was no virus.

Irish Olympic team 2016 members (left-right) Ellis O'Reilly, Ciara Mageean, Katie Taylor and Chloe Magee during the Team Ireland official 2016 kit launch at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin
Irish Olympic team 2016 members (left-right) Ellis O'Reilly, Ciara Mageean, Katie Taylor and Chloe Magee during the Team Ireland official 2016 kit launch at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin

“More chance of him [Day] getting killed by a spider in Australia than getting infected by the Zika virus.”

Taylor also questioned the removal of other sports to compensate for golf’s involvement in the Olympics for the first time ever.

“It’s crazy that wrestling (one of the core sports) was thrown out for golf. Devastating for them. Ridiculous,” she said.

Former Olympic gold ­medal-winning boxer, Michael Carruth told the Herald that while he doesn’t blame the golfers for withdrawing, he doesn’t think the Olympics means as much to them. He said the environment that golfers would be playing in meant they would be more susceptible to the virus. “It can be an excuse for them to get out of it as well,” Carruth said. “When Rory McIlroy is planning out his year, he’ll want one of the four majors – he doesn’t really want an Olympic gold medal.

Shane Lowry during the US Open
Shane Lowry during the US Open

“A professional golfer wants to win a major. The Olympic Games is a huge accolade, but it’s not a major. I grew up wanting to win the Olympic Games, I was seven years old and I told my dad I was going to win it.

“It’s making fun of the golfing fraternity in that regard. Here they are, they’re after getting golf into the Olympic Games – but all their stars are pulling out.”

Difficulties

However, he said he had not been faced with the difficulties of such a virus during his career.

“I do sympathise with them. I’m fortunate enough to have two beautiful children and there was never that threat to me during my career, so there’ll be no hard feelings for anybody in that regard,” he said.

“People think it’s an excuse, but if you were faced with the same predicament, would you do it? I can understand why they’re pulling out – young men that want to have families. You can’t blame them.”

Darren O’Neill, Ireland Olympic boxing captain in 2012, said it was tough to take for the sports people that didn’t make it to the Olympics, but that Lowry had to look out for his family.

“It is probably a lot less important for them,” said O’Neill who narrowly missed out on qualification for Rio.

“It’s not something they’ve dreamed of growing up – but it’s a difficult choice for Shane, I’m sure.

“If the Olympic games isn’t the pinnacle of your sport and your number one dream and goal, then it shouldn’t be in the Olympics.

“For someone to treat it like say Dublin [GAA] would treat the league as opposed to the Championship and that’s what it is. The Olympics are a league for them instead of the Championship.”

However, three-time major winner Padraig Harrington, who is set to represent Ireland in August, has defended the prestige of a golfing Olympic gold medal.

Speaking on The Last Word on Today FM, Harrington said that golf was different to other Olympic sports because of its longevity and that the likes of McIlroy and Lowry would have more chances to compete.

Chance

“I might only get one chance, and I’ll be taking it for sure,” Harrington said.

“It means a great deal to me. I’ve won three majors and when I’m 70 years of age and

I’m rolled out somewhere, they’ll say three-time major winner Padraig Harrington.

“If I win a fourth major it doesn’t make much difference to that, but if I win an Olympic gold, for sure it will make a difference.”

The Olympic Council of Ireland said that while they were disappointed, they

respected Lowry’s decision to withdraw.

They added that theywere following continuously updated health recommendations

“to ensure Team Ireland’s athletes are kept fully updated with the latest and best advice and that they are equipped to take all necessary precautions”.

Herald

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