Wednesday, 15th August 2012
When Katie Taylor stepped on the podium to accept her Olympic gold medal in Women's boxing there wasn't a person in Ireland who didn't feel a swell of emotion at the sight. It had been such a long time coming that we thought we would never see the day. In the end it was a gripping and hard fought match that saw her attain her dream of one day winning an Olympic gold medal. While perhaps many of us here in Ireland thought all she had to do was to turn up on the day to secure the gold it wasn't such a foregone conclusion. The Russian woman she was fighting was not going to let it be such an easy thing. She fought really well and Katie really had to call on all her strength and skill to win the match. But she is not a multiple World and European champion for nothing and nor was the inclusion of women's boxing in the Olympics one of her main achievements outside the ring for nothing either. She is a formidable woman and turned out to be a formidable and unbeatable opponent as well. What also turned out to be formidable was the amount of support that she had in the stadium. Just before the match was about to take place the Irish comedian Dara O'Brian was interviewed and made the comment that all of the staff working at the stadium just couldn't understand how so many Irish people could get their hands on so many tickets for this one event. They understandably didn't appreciate just how important this match was to so many people. Like so many great events it was bigger than the event itself. At its heart it was about someone who had fought so hard to achieve their dream against huge odds. And when Katie did achieve her dream it was no surprise that the roof of the stadium was nearly blown off by the roars. It was a huge achievement, a story much bigger then perhaps anything that had been achieved at this Olympics. There have been some great stories from this Olympics, the unstoppable Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt as well as the tremendous performance of the home team but naturally for us the Katie Taylor story was very personal. One woman who had boxed Katie earlier in the heats said that she was the perfect sportsperson both inside and outside the ring. Despite her obvious hunger for success there is also a natural modesty about Katie herself. She is undeniably proud of her achievement and what she has done to get here but there is no hubris about it at all. Its part of what makes her what she is and endears her to so many people. It is no wonder that there is already talk about her being perhaps Ireland's greatest ever sports woman. That she is also our only gold medal winner at these Olympics makes her special as well. We have achieved many great things from these Olympics and thankfully we are not one of those nations, at least in this instance, who will be beating our breasts bemoaning the fact that we didn't have a bigger medal haul. We have done extremely well from the boxing and acquitted ourselves respectably in other sports as well. Of course it would have been great if we had won more medals and especially the all elusive golds but we haven't and there is no real use in really complaining about it now. Maybe we do need to sit down and see where we could improve but a period of soul searching at this moment would just take away from the swell of pride that most Irish people feel. To all intents and purposes this Summer has been somewhat of a washout but at least in years to come we can look back and remember the time when the sun shone on a woman from Bray at the London Olympics.
Letters to the Editor
- A Government Successread more »
Once in a blue moon. As rare as hen's teeth. A Government success. Each of those three sentences are as unusual and as rare as each other. But the last one seems to be about to take place. The Government has announced that it plans to give each child in the State a second year of free pre-school. It might not sound like earth shattering news but if it does happen then it could be one of the most significant things that this Government has done since it took office. Any money that is given over to education is a …
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