Monday 20 November 2017

Katie Taylor: Grant scheme needs to show loyalty to medal prospects

Katie Taylor
Katie Taylor
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

WITH Team Ireland on the brink of losing some of its best talent to the professional game, Katie Taylor has called for a review of how the country's best medal hopes are funded.

John Joe Nevin and Conrad Cummings have already turned pro, while there could be further bad news for Irish amateur boxing on the way.

European middleweight champion Jason Quigley and double Olympic medallist Paddy Barnes have also been linked with a switch to the pro ranks, which would represent a major blow to Ireland's medal hopes at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

As it stands, funding distributed to athletes is reviewed year to year and is based on them meeting agreed performance targets, but Taylor has called on authorities to follow the British model, which guarantees backing for a longer period.

"John Joe has gone pro and Conrad Cummings has gone too -- I hope it's not going to be an ongoing thing where those lads turn pro," said the London 2012 champion.

"But you have to do what is right for your own career. Those grants aren't guaranteed -- look at David Gillick, whose grant went from €40,000 to zero. I think they have to be a bit more loyal to the athletes.

"If you have a bad year, your grant is cut straight away. Maybe they should do the contract over three or four years. That's what the GB team do and it gives them a chance to invest in those boxers."

Taylor agrees that the hugely successful amateur boxing program here is becoming a victim of its own success.

"They are huge draw for any promoter -- especially with the likes of Jason, who is great role model outside the ring," she said. "And if there are good contracts, you have to seriously consider it. It's their future and it's only a short career."

The Bray woman has already committed to defending her Olympic crown in Rio and after a relatively quiet 2013, an anomaly in the calendar sees her face two major tournaments this year, with both the European and the World titles down for decision.

"It was the quietest year I've had in a long time. Towards the end of the year I was itching to get back into those big competitions again. It wasn't a bad thing when I didn't have to prepare for those competitions -- it's important to give your body a rest," she said.

"It's strange to have the two major competitions in the same year. I'm not sure why they did it. But I'm looking forward to preparing -- that's what I missed last year, being involved in those big competitions. I'm excited about this year."

Irish Independent

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