Monday 22 January 2018

Katie Taylor tipped to carry flag for Ireland squad at Olympics opening ceremony

Boxer Katie Taylor: widely tipped to be the flagbearer
Boxer Katie Taylor: widely tipped to be the flagbearer

Cliona Foley and Mark O'Regan

KATIE Taylor remains favourite to be our flagbearer at the London Olympics opening ceremony on July 27 -- even though a female athlete has carried the flag in two of the past three Games.

Sonia O'Sullivan, who will decide the issue, admitted that it had been pointed out to her that women have dominated the highly symbolic honour at recent Olympics.

But she said past history and gender will not affect her decision.

"That really shouldn't make a difference. If a girl deserves to do it, she should get to do it," said Ms O'Sullivan, stressing that she hasn't even held discussions on the matter yet.

There is heavy speculation that the honour will go to boxing superstar Ms Taylor, not just because she is Ireland's top medal hope, but because women's boxing is making its Olympic debut in London.

Dublin sailor Ciara Peelo carried the flag in Beijing (2008), while Wexford three-day eventer Niall Griffin bore it in Athens (2004).

But Ireland's team manager stressed yesterday that she has not yet had any discussions on the matter or sounded out any athletes as to their availability.

"Obviously it will be dictated by when people are competing, and also who would be willing to accept it," she said, but Taylor, significantly, does not start competing until August 6.

When the team uniform was officially unveiled yesterday, it emerged that Irish athletes will not wear 'blazers' in the opening ceremony.

Their new casual-style parade uniform, designed by kit sponsors Asics in consultation with the athletes themselves, teams a green bomber-style team jacket with slim grey trousers and special 'parade' runners.

A team of over 60 athletes will compete in 14 sports.

But for two of them, the road to Olympic glory holds a particular family significance.

The Cuddihy sisters from Kilkenny -- who will both compete in the 4x400 relay -- said testing their skills at the very highest level is the culmination of years of hard work.

Encouragement

"We both lived in Australia this year and we trained six days a week. It's almost like a full-time job, hours-wise," explained Joanne.

Her sister, Catriona, dismissed any suggestion of sibling rivalry, saying the encouragement of their family was crucial in getting them to this level of excellence.

"Joanne is a good bit better than me. It's just a dream come true for both of us to get to the Olympics and represent Ireland. We're going to go out and do the best for our country."

Our Olympic squad unveiled

Irish Independent

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