Friday 31 October 2014

It’s gold! World beater Katie Taylor triumphs in London

Cliona Foley and reporters

Published 09/08/2012 | 17:06

British Prime Minister David Cameron is seated beside professional boxer Amir Khan while in front of him FAI chief John Delaney is in the same row as Olympic Council of Ireland boss Pat Hickey (waving).

BOXER Katie Taylor fulfilled her lifelong dream today after winning a gold medal for Ireland at the Olympic games in London. She beat Russian opponent Sofya Ochigava 10-8 in front of a capacity crowd which was overwhelmingly in support of the 26-year-old.

Taylor delighted thousands of Irish fans at the ExCel arena in London as well as the estimated audience of over a million people watching at home.

The huge Irish crowd did not waiver when the score was level at 2-2 after a tentative first round between the two women who met in this year’s world championship final when Taylor had won 11-7.

When Taylor was behind at the end of the second with a score of 4-3 to the Russian, the massive Irish audience still kept screeching for their golden girl and when she was ahead 7-5 at the end of the third, after winning it 4-1 in the bout's big turning point, the place erupted.

But in a particularly tense final round, Ochigava floored her and the brave Irish woman had to really keep her cool to land some vital punches.

At the final bell the deafening sound suddenly went briefly silent, an indication of just how tight the result was going to be and both woman waited anxiously as everyone in the arena held their breath to see which of them would get the result with chants of Katie-Katie ringing out to support her.

And when the final result was announced, the place went wild, with Ireland's new champion and born-again Christian looking towards the sky and shouting 'thank God, thank God."

A jubilant Taylor received her gold medal at a presentation ceremony and did a lap of honour around the ring with the tricolour – her second of the day.

Later, she told RTE in an interview that she was so nervous she hadn’t been able to eat all day.

But she was also delighted with the win and that she had kept her composure.

“I’m an Olympic champion, I’ve dreamed of this so many times,” she said.

She also said her faith in God and Jesus had helped her win the gold medal.

“Praise God, thank you Jesus,” she added.

Taylor's marvellous performance brought Ireland only the ninth gold medal in its Olympic history and she joins a pantheon of sporting greats that includes Ronnie Delaney from 1956.

It came exactly after 20 years and one day since Michael Carruth won Ireland's last gold medal at the sport they call the 'sweet science'.

Taylor has become one of the most talked about athletes at the London 2012 games, with observers amazed by her speed and technical ability.

Preparations are already underway in her native Bray for a massive homecoming celebration for the Olympic gold medallist.

The four-time world champion bagged her place in the final with a 17-9 victory over Mavzuna Chorieva of Tajikistan in the semi-final yesterday.

After her win, former world champion boxer Barry McGuigan congratulated her in front of throngs of spectators.

The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and five time Olympian, Sir Steve Redgrave were there to see her deserved victory.

The President, Michael D Higgins, said in a statement: "Taylor has lifted the spirit of the nation with her magnificent gold medal winning performance at the London Olympics today. I want to offer my sincere congratulations to Katie, who has represented this country with such courage, skill and pride over many years. She truly deserves this historic and hard earned victory; it is a just reward for her dedication and commitment over the years."

The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, said: "Katie Taylor is not only an Olympic champion, she is a force of nature whose pioneering spirit and boxing brilliance have seen her realise her personal dream of winning Olympic gold."

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