Katie Taylor has joined the rest of the IABA squad at their training camp in Hennef, Germany , after all. Following her recent wins in Bray, media interest in Ireland’s best Olympic gold medal prospect has dramatically increased, and she has not even qualified yet so the decision to go to Germany after all is a very wise move by Team Taylor. It had been intended that after her wins in Bray last weekend that she would remain at home.
Though the Irish media may consider that Katie has had a considerable amount of media coverage not only in the ring but also following various charity and other public appearances e.g : being Grand Marshal at last year’s St Patrick’s Day Parade, meetings with the Queen and with President Obama, etc, the fact remains that such coverage to date is ‘very modest’ – even in Ireland – for someone who is a three times World champion, has won the European title 5 times in a row and the European Union championship for four successive years, not to mention her starring role in Irish women’s football in previous years.
She may not receive the same attention that Usain Bolt will but she will not be that far behind the great Jamaican between now and the Olympics, and again if she qualifies throughout the Games.
She has also been one of the main movers behind the decision of the sports ruling body, the AIBA, NOT to insist upon women wearing skirts in the Olympics, a point that was not lost on AIBA President Wu when he announced the final verdict. Indeed the AIBA President told the media present that at the Olympic test event at London’s Excel Centre that Taylor is of the main reasons why women’s boxing became an Olympic sport whilst LOCOG’s Lord Sebastian Coe forecast that the 25 years old from Bray could be : “the poster girl of these games”.
That said Team Taylor, who have their own commercial manager, in football agent and manager, Pat Devlin , desperately need a highly experienced “Media Manager” in place before the World Championships in China and most certainly months in advance of an appearance at London 2012, if she qualifies
Let us remember that women’s boxing is NEW to the Olympics and has had remarkably little coverage in many parts of the World so when the media descends upon London 2012 , most of the world’s media – especially the ‘notorious’ British tabloids, will be seeking out the Irish woman. The AIBA in particular will be looking to her to help promote the sport particularly after the ‘skirts’ PR disaster.
The British media have already said more or less everything that could be said about their own excellent boxers like Savannah Marshall, Nikki Adams, Amanda Coulson/Natasha Jonas/Chantelle Cameron and it is already accepted in the British capital that Katie Taylor is likely to be the ‘ poster girl’ for the new sport. Although such as India’s Mary Kom, Canada’s Mary Spencer, China’s Cancan Ren , Queen Underwood from the United States and Russia’s Sofya Ochigava are well known in the their own countries the fact is that it is to Taylor that many of the world’s media will turn in London, especially from those countries where women’s boxing is virtually unknown.
Peter Taylor has seen that happen in particular in the past two or three months and even more so since Sky TV appointed Katie as one of their ‘scholarship athletes’ for London 2012. It is widely predicted that Sky are sending a TV crew to Cork for the upcoming bout against Cashmere Jackson of the United States at the Silver Springs Hotel on March 30th – an unprecedented act, if it happens, even for Sky since it is not in any way,shape or form a major event.Two more home bouts against Holland are also scheduled for this month in Dublin and in Cavan and perhaps a fourth fight.
In particular since the Chisora/Haye debacle, boxing has had a terrible press worldwide and the AIBA and indeed the Olympic Authorities will be only too keen to promote Taylor; Taylor left for Germany after her support team decided that the existing media attention is already becoming unmanageable. No Irish sports star has ever faced such media attention as Taylor is likely to receive if she is qualifies. True Michelle Smith de Bruijn did but that was AFTER the Olympics as she was virtually unknown outside of Ireland hitherto.
‘The Daily Mail’ reports that :‘the three-time world champion’s father and trainer, Pete, has been inundated with phone calls and interview requests after Katie’s successful brace of fights last weekend, filmed by Sky Sports,’
Sensibly Katie’s Dad and Coach Peter has indicated that she will spend very little time in Ireland in June and July ,if she qualifies for the Games although she has expressed a wish to join in the Dublin torch relay on June 6. That event would be within days of the end of the World Championships in China.
Before leaving for Germany, Pete Taylor told ‘ The Daily Mail’ : The two (Bray) fights went well and it was great to see crowds come out to support Katie, but my phone hasn’t stopped and we’ve decided we’d be able to concentrate better on training in Germany.’
An Irish Sports Council spokesman commenting on the increasing media interest in Taylor said : ‘It’s an issue we are aware of and we are working with the IABA to make sure Katie doesn’t come under undue pressure, both in terms of her time and the management of expectations.’
The fact remains sadly that neither the IABA nor the O.C.I’s own media team has the vast experience required to be able to protect Katie from over exposure in the media and particularly from the British tabloids, not only their sports reporters but also their newshounds. . Nor could we reasonably expect Chef de Mission, Sonia O’Sullivan to deal with the world’s media in addition to her other onerous responsibilities.
Peter Taylor will be more than actively engaged so the solution can only be that a very experienced media manager be appointed so that Taylor’s appearances at non-essential press conferences are severely curtailed . That is the price that the OCI and the IABA must pay if they really do want Taylor to succeed in China and hopefully in London.