Wednesday 18 October 2017

Katie fights back tears as London finally calling

Mark Hilliard and Breda Heffernan

AFTER years of hard work and the prayers of a nation, an emotional Katie Taylor's Olympic dream became a reality.

Fighting back tears, Katie said the whole of Ireland had been praying for her as she competed at the world championships in China to win a place in this summer's London Olympics.

"It's a dream come true really, I just can't believe it.

"It's just years and years of hard work really to get here; now I'm going to be an Olympian," the 25-year-old said, as her proud father and coach Pete Taylor looked on.

And she didn't forget the good wishes being sent her way from the other side of the world.

"I just want to thank all those people who've been praying for me the last couple of weeks, it's unbelievable," she said in Qinhuangdao, where her mother Bridget was also on hand to offer congratulations.

After the Olympics, the news looks like it will get even better for Katie, with sports marketing experts predicting she could easily earn up to €250,000 from endorsements.

"She is [Rory] McIlroy in shorts and boxing gloves; when she hits London I think she could potentially become one of the stars of the games," said Fintan Drury, chairman of the Platinum One group, which represents a number of sporting giants, rugby starts Jonny Sexton and Gordon D'Arcy among them.

"She could earn very significant revenue.

"If she was to earn a couple of hundred thousand to €500,000 a year in endorsements, I would have thought that was well within reach," he explained.

And that's before Katie looks to the United States, where the country's interest in female boxing, and the fact that she is Irish, make a potentially profitable combination.

"We have had some fantastic individual success stories but outside of the core sports (football, rugby, golf), invariably people's expectations aren't met," said Mr Drury.

"However, she is, in Irish terms, unique. She is a woman and she is competing in what most people see as being a male preserve.

"Secondly, she is bright, articulate, presentable, and she is a fantastic package like that," he added.

Injury

The feisty Bray fighter's long road to qualification came to fruition in Qinhuangdao yesterday after her Romanian opponent, Mihaela Lacatus, failed a medical on a neck injury and was ruled out of the quarter-finals in the 60kg lightweight division.

Ms Taylor had already made it to the ring for the bout, but still faced an anxious wait to find out if she had qualified.

She needed one of the other four European boxers to lose her quarter-final as only three would gain Olympic places -- and a French fighter duly lost. Taylor will fight in a semi-final tomorrow at 8am as she tries to secure another world championship gold medal.

Irish Independent

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