Before setting off today, for Rotterdam and next week’s attempt at a ‘five-in-a-row’ European 60kg title where she is likely to come up against Russian captain and arch rival, Sofya Ochigava , Katie Taylor has been talking to the “Sky Sports – London 2012” team.
Ochigava, who is at this time Taylor’s main rival for Gold in Rotterdam and probably in London, is herself a two times world champion , who defeated Taylor 8-1 last time they met albeit no matter how often one views the tape of that fight it is difficult to comprehend how the judges ever arrived at that score. 8:1? – never but that is how the mainly ‘Eastern European’ judges scored it . So what’s new?
Is she not concerned about the often negative image of women’s boxing?
“ My family have always been very supportive, my mother was the first female boxing judge in the country so she’s really knowledgeable about the sport. I started boxing so young I didn’t even know what people were saying – my family would have protected me from any negative comments that were going about.
I’m glad I stuck at it, there are always going to be people out there who have negative comments to say about women’s boxing but you’ve just got to keep carrying on with things and keep plugging away to prove them wrong”.
On the subject of the London 2012 Olympic Games?
“It was a dream come true for every female boxer around the globe when it was announced that women’s boxing was going to be included in the Olympics. We’ve really been working so hard to get it into the Olympics so it was a big relief.
All my friends have all got tickets but I keep telling them I haven’t even qualified yet! They’ve all got tickets for the boxing but qualification for boxing for us isn’t until next year – so no pressure! I’d definitely have to give them their money back if I don’t make it!”
How will she prepare for the one Qualifying tournament in China in May and for London 2012 IF she qualifies? :
“ I’ll be training like mad to get to London, I train twice a day, six days a week so I really do look forward to my rest days when I get them.
Talking of her second sporting love, Soccer, she tells Sky that : “ Boxing is my first love, but I also used to play international football for Ireland – although I haven’t played for Ireland for the last couple of years with the boxing taking over.
It’s something I loved though and something I miss from time to time, being involved with the team and being around the squad. It’s a huge honour playing for your country and maybe it’s something I could pick up again after the Olympics at some stage, but for now I’m focused on boxing and seeing how that goes”.
SportsNewsIreland will be bringing you regular updates from Rotterdam throughout the European Championships – Ireland has its largest ever squad in a major Women’s international tournament, led by Taylor.
The Irish team for Rotterdam: – Oct 16th- 23rd
48Kg: Lynne McEnery (St Pauls)
51Kg: Katie Rowland (Geesala)
54Kg: Ceire Smith (Cavan)
57Kg: Michaela Walsh (Holy Family)
60Kg: Katie Taylor (Bray)
64Kg: Kelly Harrington (Corinthians)
69Kg: Laoise Traynor (Bray)
75kg: Sinead Kavanagh (Drimnagh)
81kg: Lauragh O’Neill (Paulstown)
Team manager: Anna Moore
Coaches: Pete Taylor, Zaur Antia, Damien Kelly
Physio: Mary Louise Ryan
Taylor apart, two ‘newcomers’ to watch out for as fine future prospects are Katie Rowland from the Geesala Club in Mayo and Michaela Walsh of Holy Family. High hopes too for Cavan’s Ceire Smith who took part in the 2010 World Senior event in Barbados though she went out in first round.
All three could well be fine prospects by the time of the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Walsh and Rowland have recently won medals in European Youth and Junior Championships – at such a young age it is impossible to forecast what might happen in 5 years’ time but if I were a betting man, then I’d certainly be backing Rowland as ‘one to watch’ in the future.
All three have excellent coaches indeed Patrick McDonagh from the Geesala club was a member of the Irish management team in Calais-Sangatte when she won a silver medal in the inaugural Europeans. Alas the IABA did NOT enter any of the team in this year’s event in Orenburg due to lack of funding. A great shame that as such as Rowland would have greatly benefit. Rowland subsequently defeated the silver medallist from Orenburg, the highly rated English ABA champion, Sarah Rostron , at the Cambridge boxing club tournament. Happily they have funded a full squad for Rotterdam which is no more and no less than the enthusiastic team deserves and needs if women’s boxing in Ireland is to thrive when Taylor retires, as one day she must, be it after London 2012 or later.