WICKLOW'S Katie Taylor received a welldeserved and early Christmas gift this week when she was named Irish Sportswoman of the Year 2012.
The Bray boxing legend and Olympic gold medallist looked stunning as she collected both a monthly award and the overall award at a gala awards ceremony in Dublin on Thursday evening. Katie was presented with the overall award by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and was one of 12 female stars honoured for superb achievements in their chosen sport. Wicklow's Fionnuala Britton also picked up an award for athletics.
"I'm honoured and delighted to be named the Irish Times/Irish Sports Council Sportswoman of the Year," said Katie as she collected her award.
"This has been an amazing year for me and for Irish women in sport and I would like to congratulate all the finalists in their respective fields who have excelled at major sporting events such as the 2012 London Olympics, the AllIreland finals and The Grand National. "The other finalists such as Bethany Firth, Katie Walsh, Annalise Murphy, Fionnuala Britton, Stephanie Meadow and Rena Buckley have all played a part in gaining much needed recognition for females in sports.
"It is wonderful to have an award like this as it recognizes Irish Sports women and the amazing achievements that have brought us all here today," she added.
Kieran Mulvey, Chairman of The Irish Sports Council said: "When Irish sports do well in the international arena it benefits all of us, bringing positive recognition for the country, an improved reputation and a boost to morale.
"It is with women like Bethany Firth, Annalise Murphy and Katie Taylor, with her stunning gold success at the London Olympics 2012, as well as their coaching teams that bring these benefits to Ireland.
"The Irish Sports Council is proud to be part of awards that recognise these achievements across a wide number of sports including equestrian, rugby, hockey, golfing, camogie, football and athletics. Congratulations to Katie Taylor and all the finalists for giving us a great year for Irish women in sport," he said.
There was also more news from the world of Katie Taylor this week when it was announced that not only will she fight one fight in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre but, due to exceptional demand, a second bout, this time in March, has been announced for the same venue.
"It's great to have a date to focus on now and it will be great to box at home as Olympic Champion," said Katie.
"I was humbled by all the people who came over to support me in London, it felt like the Irish fans took over the arena for my fights so it's great now that people will have a chance to see me on home soil taking on world class opposition.
"I boxed at the O2 in 2009 and it was a brilliant experience and the crowd's reaction that night was amazing and really lifted me and it would be great to repeat that in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in February and now March."
The months since the Olympics have been a hive of activity for Taylor who released her book 'My Olympic Dream', travelled the country to book signings, award ceremonies and charity events and more recently travelled to Armenia to pick up her award from amateur boxing's international governing body AIBA as their Women's Boxer of the Year.
She was back in London recently to attend the BBC Sports Personality of the Year where she was recognised for being one of the stars of the 2012 games.
"It's all been a bit of a whirlwind really and it's been such a busy time but I'm really looking forward to getting back in the ring and boxing again," said Taylor.
"I've tried to keep life as normal as possible and the support from people wishing me well has been brilliant.
"It seems everyone knows who I am now but I've never been interested in being a ' celebrity' so that has taken some adjusting to.
"I took a few weeks off from training after the Olympics but I've been back in the gym for quite a while now so it's good to be back in a routine and training hard again with two fight dates to focus on," added Katie who will now enjoy only two days off over Christmas.