Sunday 30 April 2017

Pete may just be right about golden girl Katie

Team Ireland's Katie Taylor
Team Ireland's Katie Taylor
Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

It says quite something for the hold Katie Taylor has on her sport that defeat would now constitute a bigger story than any gold medal win.

People have long since taken to making careless assumptions about Katie. The broadest and surely most dispiriting is that what she does amounts to little more than punching a time-clock, ticking a box.

Taylor's record over the past 14 years (160 victories from 167 bouts) has all but tranquillised the Irish public against concern that somewhere out there might lurk a lightweight equipped to beat her. But increased TV coverage of her sport is slowly disabusing people of the notion that what she does is easy.

A glimpse at Katie's expression as her hand was raised after that split decision semi-final victory over local girl, Yana Alekseevna, maybe best captured how deep she had to dig en route to claiming an 18th major title.

In front of a wildly partisan crowd, Taylor went to the very floor of her own resolve to win.

Her dad, Pete, suggests she should be considered the greatest Irish athlete of all time and, given, she has now been ranked number one in the world for an entire decade, it is difficult to argue.

Baku certainly re-asserted the revered place boxing's High Performance unit, overseen by coaches Billy Walsh, Zaur Antia and Pete Taylor, should now hold in the national psyche. For the triumphs of Taylor, Michael O'Reilly, Brendan Irvine and Sean McComb delivered Ireland to a third-place finish in the boxing medals table.

This from a team denied the presence of marquee names like Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan and Joe Ward? Extraordinary.

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