Ireland’s Olympic gold medalist Katie Taylor
didn’t just have to dodge opponents left and right jabs all week long in London. She also had to contend with a veritable deluge of potentially distracting rubbish. Taylor took the gold medal this afternoon, the first ever in women’s boxing, by beating Russian opponent Sofya Ochigava. During the lead up to the gold medal bout the Russian girl was guilty of some pretty disgraceful disparaging comments to the media. Sadly, that wasn’t the only disappointing distraction as some of her compatriots in the Russian media added gasoline to the fire with equally stupid comments, and a couple of British journalists made the head scratching ‘mistake’ of calling Taylor ‘British’.
However, all week long the thing that has impressed the most of all about Taylor has been her laser sharp focus pre-match and throughout every round of every fight. Nothing changed today as Taylor cast aside all distractions and put her experience, style and technique to work and came out, quite literally, on top of the world.
Taylor has given Ireland and boxing fans all over the World a plethora of memories to take away from this Olympic games. She has brought dignity to the ring every time, the memory of her classy encounter against British girl Natasha Jonas will last a long time. She brought an army of wild, adoring and loyal fans who literally set the record for loudest fans at an Olympics. She has been a wonderful role model for the youth of Ireland, a group searching, hoping for such a leader in these dark recessional times. She has been a firework shooting across the London sky.
Taylor has also impressed opponents and coaches alike. Natasha Jonas had this to say after being beaten by Katie
"I could have thrown the kitchen sink [at her], maybe drove a bus into her, it didn't work. She's the best."
You can count US head boxing coach Basheer Abdullah as a fan too. One of his boxers, Queen Underwood, failed to automatically qualify for these Olympics, despite glittering credentials. Taylor publicly and successfully lobbied the powers that be in world boxing to give Underwood an at-large bid. Basheer said
"That says a lot about her character. She's a true champion. When you look back at the great ones in boxing, the Ali's, they wanted to compete against the best. And that's the same mentality Katie Taylor has."
Katie has attracted the attention of stars outside the boxing world also. Irish legends old and new have been tweeting about her victory, take for example the great Paul McGrath and the potentially great James McClean.
Taylor has worked for this all her life, and can now sit back and reap the rewards. It is not often you come across an athlete that deserves every single accolade that gets thrown at them, however Katie is one of a rare breed.
Many of us are guilty of having been caught up in the surrounding distractions this week (including me!). All along we had it wrong. Just stay in the moment, ignore the distractions, put the hard work in and if you are honest and true to yourself, if the sporting Gods decide to shine on you, who knows, you just might come out at the other end with a gold medal.
Just like Katie.Follow Cormac on Twitter