Tuesday 26 September 2017

Golden girl Katie to fly the flag for Ireland

Colm Kelpie and Shane Hickey

OLYMPIC gold medal hopeful Katie Taylor (left) has been selected as Ireland's flag bearer for Friday's opening ceremony in London.

The 26-year-old four-time world champion will carry the Tricolour in front of her Team Ireland colleagues on Friday -- and an estimated global TV audience of four billion.

Many of the 66 Irish athletes competing in London 2012 were settling into life in the Olympic Village yesterday.

Katie was finishing her preparations yesterday with the Olympic Council of Ireland stating she was travelling to the Games.

The dazzling €35m opening ceremony, which will be broadcast live on RTE, will kick off at 9pm on Friday night.

At 10.15pm, the national teams will parade through the Olympic stadium for 90 minutes in alphabetical order, except for Greece which traditionally enters first, followed by the host nation.

The Irish team, dressed in their green-and-blue Team Ireland tracksuits made by Asics, will walk out led by Katie, waving the Tricolour.

Details of the extravaganza have been kept a mystery and spectators who attended a sneak preview were urged not to spoil the surprise for the rest of the world.

Games organisers who were invited to a technical dress rehearsal of the multi-million euro spectacular were asked to refrain from circulating any revealing pictures or videos taken inside the Olympic Stadium.

Surprise

The ceremony's artistic director, Danny Boyle, reportedly addressed the audience and called on them to "save the surprise" ahead of Friday's showpiece by not posting any images on social networks.

On Friday morning, Big Ben is to chime non-stop for three minutes, starting at 8.12am, to herald the first day of the Games. The event -- titled All The Bells -- will be the first big celebration to kick off the Games.

Sonia O'Sullivan, who was the flag bearer in the 2000 Sydney Games, said it was an honour to perform the task. "She's (Katie) done so much for Ireland and so much for women's boxing," Ms O'Sullivan said.

"I think she's got all the credentials to represent Ireland as probably our best athlete going into the Games."

The Irish boxing squad arrived in London yesterday after winding up their final training camp in Assisi, Italy.

They will have their general weigh-in in London on Friday.

Katie was not among the squad, as it is understood she remained in Ireland carrying out her own training regime.

The remaining members include Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon from Belfast, John Joe Nevin from Cavan, Adam Nolan from Bray and Darren O'Neill from Kilkenny.

Security around the Olympics has been boosted significantly amid fears a terrorist attack is a strong possibility.

The British government yesterday announced that 1,200 additional troops previously on stand-by were being brought into action.

The Irish Olympic team are due to have their official welcome and flag raising ceremony in the Olympic village today.

Some 4,000 athletes have now arrived in London in advance of the Games and an additional one million people are expected to flood the city every day in the coming weeks.

Irish Independent

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