Katie Taylor is Ireland’s great Olympic hope at London 2012 and and she’s women’s boxing’s great hope for a positive response to the sport’s first inclusion at the Olympic Games since 1902. The 24 year old Bray native though isn’t thinking of that yet, she knows it’s a long road between now and the qualifiers in Beijing next May and first up is this week’s attempt at claiming her fifth European Championship in a row.
Speaking to SportsnewsIreland at the ESB Olympic Hopefuls event recently Taylor said that despite the hype and pressure surrounding her Olympic challenge, next summer in London was at the back of her mind.
“I’m just taking each competition as it comes along really”, she said “I try not to think too much about it to be honest.”
“I’ll try and take it in my stride and concentrate on the European’s first of all.”
Despite dominating at the Europeans for the last four years Taylor says that as the sport improves the competition gets tougher and she knows that for newer fighters she is a scalp.
“There’s always that pressure coming into any tournament and succecss at previous European championships doesn’t really matter. It’s irrelevent really”, Taylor said expressing a hunger and knowledge that no top athlete can afford to rest on their laurels.
“I have to keep proving myself over and over at these competitions.”
Taylor has been spearheading women’s boxing for the last five years so there is no one better placed to assess the health of the sport as it continues its growth coming into it’s first modern Olympic Games.
“The last few years it is getting harder and harder it’s always a new challenge to retain your titles. The strength and depth involved at each weight now, every fights a tough fight. You don’t get any easy fights any more.”
Two fighters in particular will be on Taylor’s mind at this weeks championship in Rotterdam. Sofya Ochigava of Russia and Gulsum Tatar from Turkey will both compete in Taylor’s 60kg category this year and both have defeated Taylor. Ochigava was the women who ended Taylor’s magnificant 42 bout winning streak in March of 2010.
“That didn’t have any effect on me at all. It’s amateur boxing and you’re boxing week in, week out, so you’re going to lose every now and then and you just have to get on with things.”
Even if they can manage to beat Taylor this week she says it will have no effect on her.
“People make such a big deal of me losing but it doesn’t really have any effect on me at all, I just go home and have a week off.”
Taylor though is confident that she can claim that fifth gold medal.
“Training’s going really well and I’m looking forward to it but I’ll have to be at my best to win it.”