Saturday 16 December 2017

I think the Taoiseach was shocked and a bit ashamed at the state of the gym, says world champ's father

The run-down club where Olympic medal hopefuls Katie Taylor and Adam Nolan train doesn't have a toilet or shower

JEROME REILLY and JOYCE FEGAN

It's the first boxing club in the world to produce both a male and a female Olympian, but the third-world conditions at the Bray gym where world champ Katie Taylor and Adam Nolan hone the noble art, shocked and shamed Taoiseach Enda Kenny.



There hasn't been a toilet or a shower at Bray Boxing Club for years and the one hundred members, including young boys, and girls use the loo in the nearby Harbour Bar, Katie Taylor's dad and trainer told the Taoiseach when he visited the club last week.

"He was pretty shocked alright. I think he couldn't believe it," Peter Taylor said.

And as building work continued at Bray Boxing gym last week, it's been revealed that the "total refit" on foot of a modest €24,000 State grant is anything but.

Conditions were so spartan in the almost derelict old building, that the money will be gobbled up putting in basic flooring and dry lining in what were bare breeze block walls.

In terms of basic facilities, after the "total refit" has been finished the gym will still only boast a single toilet and a single shower to cater for its boys and girls who pay €4 a week to train at the successful boxing academy.

There has been an ongoing issue with the club, which is housed in an old boat house, trying to access an adjacent concrete shed which is the property of the local authority, Mr Taylor told the Taoiseach.

"He told us just to knock through into the shed and use it and deal with the consequences afterwards. He could not believe it when he saw it. The shed would be a huge benefit for us in terms of storage."

The lack of toilet facilities for the young children, who are 50/50 male and female, is an ongoing problem.

Because they are using the toilets of the Harbour Bar it means that the parents of youngsters have to stay while their children are training to escort them, if they need the loo.

"I don't want to sound like I'm whingeing. It is very spartan but it is a great little club, great parents, great kids and a great spirit. I think the Taoiseach was very shocked and maybe a bit ashamed when he saw it. He told me to put in an application for the club under the next round of sports grants and he would make sure it would be looked after," Mr Taylor said.

While building work continues at the Bray gym, Katie is this weekend training at a Dublin gym, her dad told the Sunday Independent.

The remarkable Katie collected her fourth world title in a row in China earlier this month but the Bray girl has already turned her attention to bringing home the Olympic gold medal.

Taylor beat her main rival, Russian Sofya Ochigava, for the gold medal and took a week off before turning her attention to the London Games in July.

"It's unbelievable, this is what I've been training for all year," she said

"To win the world title for the fourth time in a row and qualify for the Olympics is amazing.

"For the last couple of years people have been wishing me well for the Olympics and I have had to tell them that I hadn't qualified yet.

"And there was so much pressure on me going into this competition and it's just a big relief to finally qualify and to be going into the Olympics as the current world champion."

The story of Enniscorthy's Adam Nolan, who is also trained by Peter Taylor in the run-down building, is also remarkable.

Unlike most of the Irish squad, his work as a garda meant he was not able to take part in as much of the High Performance Unit's training schedule as his colleagues. He is a true Corinthian.

The Bray garda became the 38th Irish athlete to qualify for London 2012 as a result of a comprehensive 19-10 win over Romania's Ionut Gheorghe in Trabzon.

"Katie gets more nervous when Adam is in the ring than about any other fight," Mr Taylor said after Adam qualified.

A Sunday Independent Millward Brown Lansdowne opinion poll shows that the a majority of Irish people believe all sports should get a fair crack of the whip in terms of State finances.

Respondents were asked: "Should more funding resources be given to the Irish Olympic boxing team, where we have greater potential of success in the Olympics -- or should funds be allocated to all Olympic sports, regardless of the potential for success?"

In all, 75 per cent said funding should be allocated across all sports and just 18 per cent believe there should be more funding for boxing. Seven per cent had no opinion.

The Government has approved sports grants for a number of boxing clubs around the country. Sports Minister Michael Ring recently announced a €25,000 grant for Ballyhaunis Boxing Club in his native Mayo to help improve their facilities.

"I am hopeful that this money will upgrade the existing facilities at the boxing club and encourage more people to take up boxing," Mr Ring said.

A new €30m fund for important sports capital projects was announced by Mr Ring in March -- the first round of sports capital funding for four years.

The scheme will also be open to far more clubs and groups than before, because a strict requirement on land-ownership has been relaxed. These clubs will now be able to apply for grants of up to €25,000 to upgrade facilities.

Sunday Independent

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