Wednesday 13 November 2019

Record turnout expected to welcome medal heroes

Ireland's Katie Taylor (top) reacts as she is declared the winner. Photo: Reuters
Ireland's Katie Taylor celebrates as she leaves the ring after being declared the winner over Russia's Sofya Ochigava. Photo: Reuters
Ireland's Katie Taylor celebrates. Photo: Reuters
Ireland's Katie Taylor celebrates as she leaves the ring. Photo: Reuters
Katie Taylor of Ireland kisses her gold medal as silver medallist Sofya Ochigava of Russia looks on. Photo: Reuters

Mark O'Regan

A RECORD turnout is expected to cheer Katie Taylor and her fellow Olympians as they land on home soil next week.

She will return next Monday as part of Ireland's most successful Olympic team in almost six decades.

A massive planning operation was under way last night to try and cater for the thousands of sporting fans expected to descend on Dublin Airport for the homecoming.

Ireland's Olympians will touch down on an Aer Lingus flight at 1.30pm on, a DAA spokesperson confirmed yesterday.

She added that preparations are ongoing, and that a number of options are being considered to cope with the expected record turnout.

The spokesperson also confirmed that talks are continuing with the Olympic Council of Ireland on the details and schedule of the homecoming.

It is understood details have not yet been finalised by the Government regarding a possible state reception for our Olympians.

Already in the medal winning camp is Cian O'Connor, who surprised some of the pundits when he bagged a bronze in a closely fought equestrian competition.

Ireland's Olympic boxing odyssey continues today when Paddy Barnes, John Joe Nevin and Michael Conlan, all of whom are guaranteed bronze medals, slug it out for the possibility of silver and even gold.

Paddy Barnes is first in the ring when he goes toe to toe against China's Zou Shiming at 1.30pm today.

His coach, Gerry Story, said last night that his young prodigy has what it takes to go all the way in the games and insists the 25-year-old's experience in Beijing is a key weapon in his armour.

"We know his opponent is a good fighter but Paddy has upset some good fighters in the past and there's no doubt he'll rise to the occasion. He's in it to win and don't be surprised if there's an upset on the cards.

"If he gets his tactics right he can do it. Pressure doesn't affect Paddy Barnes.''

John Joe Nevin will fight bantamweight world champion Cuban Lazaro Alvarez Estrada at 2pm, while Michael Conlan faces down Cuba's Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana at 8.45pm.

In contrast to the boxers, the medal prospects of Ireland's remaining Olympic hopefuls are less certain.

Andrzej Jezierskii is hopeful in the C1 200 metre class speed canoeing sprint part today at 9.30am.

On Saturday Rob Heffernan, Colin Griffin and Brendan Boyce take part in the 50km walk at 9am and Laura Reynolds and Olive Loughnane feature in the 20km walk at 5pm.

Finally, on Sunday Mark Kenneally tries his luck against some awesome running talent in the men's marathon.

Irish Independent

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