AS ROLE models go, they don't get much more inspirational than boxer Katie Taylor, who revealed in Bray last week that she wants to represent Ireland at the Rio Olympics in four years.
'When I was your age, around six or seven years old, I had a dream of becoming an Olympic champion,' she told pupils of her former primary school in Bray, St. Fergal's, last Tuesday afternoon.
She went from there up the road to her other alma mater St. Kilian's, where she entered the sports hall to massive applause and a rousing rendition of 'Eye of the Tiger.'
' Those dreams that you have in your heart really can come true. Keep working hard and don't give up anything is possible. You can't give up on your dreams, just go for it,' she told the primary school children.
Katie's young fans waved flags and chanted her name with gusto, sang songs in her honour and there was even a display of Irish dancing.
Junior school principal Marie Dunphy was visibly delighted to act as MC for the day, along with principal of the senior school Joe Behan, and deputy principal Tom Sargent who played a huge role in encouraging the Oldcourt girl in to sport during her time at St. Fergal's. Tom interviewed the champion, who praised her teachers and the school for all they did. He asked Katie what you need, besides talent, to achieve your dreams.
'You need to work very very hard, and never give up. You're always going to have good and bad days but it's so important to keep pushing on and never give up. The support from family has been crucial to me. I wouldn't be where I am with out their hard work and support.'
With that, her dad Pete Taylor brought over the other star of the piece - Katie's Olympic medal. And the crowd went wild.
Katie's nephews Jake, Leon, Jason and Aaron got their own round of applause on the day, which they accepted as humbly as their famous aunt.
With the formalities over, she went in amongst the children, showing off her medal and signing autographs until the very last minute. With another eager group waiting patiently at St. Kilian's, Pete gently prised her away from her adoring public and on to the next appearance.
The reception was just as warm at the secondary school, with a din of cheering and singing as she entered the hall.
'It's always great to come back here to see all the students and the teachers here have really shaped me into who I am,' she said. 'I have great memories here.'
Principal John Murphy told the pupils that just this once, mobile phones could be taken out of bags and pockets and they duly started taking precious photos of their hero.
Mr. Murphy praised Katie's ' intelligence, humility and complete lack of ego,' which have set her apart.
She once again stepped down to be shoulder to shoulder with the hundreds of pupils so enlightened and inspired by this young lady from Oldcourt in Bray.
Pete said on the day that the Taylors are negotiating a possible contract with the IBA, while promoters are keen to get a decision.
He said an answer should be forthcoming in the coming week.