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Katie's courage lies in what she has had to take on the chin

KATIE Taylor -- a woman in a man's game; she shouldn't be boxing; the sport is pointless anyway and the women's version is not really a sport; she'll get brain damage; she'll get breast cancer. Why on earth would a silly woman want to box?

When 80-year-old Betty Robinson Schwartz spoke to a crowd in Riverdale, Illinois, in 1992, she wiped a tear from her eye, possibly remembering the discrimination she encountered in 1928.

Betty was 16 when she became the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal, in Amsterdam in 1928. She won the 100 metres and it was the first time women had been allowed into the track and field events.

Athletics for women in the 1928 Olympics were still heavily disputed by officials, but obviously Betty didn't let this stop her. (In fact, up until 1972, women were considered too frail to run more than 800 metres).

Betty's story could be remarkable enough at that. But no, this woman was born to charge through the worst of traumas -- both tragic and farcical. In 1931, she was in a plane crash and was found unconscious on the ground. The person who came across her thought she was dead and bundled her into the boot of his car. She was later found to be alive, albeit unconscious; she stayed in a coma for seven months.

Pioneer

After coming out of the coma, Betty went back to running and made the Olympic 400m relay team of 1936. Even though she was unable to bend her knee properly at the starting line, Betty gave it her all and her team won. Betty Robinson had won her second Olympic gold. A true fighter.

For the first time in Olympic history, women's boxing will be an event, in London this summer. Three weights, 12 competitors in each weight -- Katie will be in the lightweight category.

She is a pioneer, someone who has the chance to be the first woman to win gold at lightweight, and she is Irish.

As I saw the results of all the sporting events that went on this weekend -- Chelsea, Leinster; all the GAA matches -- I thought how this girl shines above them all.

Katie was born a boxer, a fighter. She has had to fight sexism and prejudice, and has taken it all on the chin. She may win gold, she may not win any medal at all. But we should all be proud of this young woman, who, like Betty Robinson 84 years ago, went against the grain and competed in a sport that men had owned.

She is truly one of our greatest athletes.


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