Katie Taylor was afforded a welcome befitting an Olympic hero on her return to Bray – and told the people she grew up with her gold medal was theirs to enjoy.
Ireland’s Olympic star was bowled over as 20,000 fans gathered on the seafront in her hometown to welcome her back from London.
Fighting back the tears, the gold medal winner was astonished at the warmth and depth of emotion from the crowds who had waited patiently for hours to greet her arrival in the Wicklow resort.
Greeting them from the Victorian bandstand on the promenade near the boxing club where she trains, the gold medal boxer and her father Pete thanked each and every one of her most devoted followers.
“This is unbelievable,” said Taylor as the coastal town came to a standstill with local resident Sinead O’Connor even joining in the festivities.
Katie added: “I’m just overwhelmed, this is incredible. I wouldn’t be in this situation without all the support I got in the last few years.
“Without your support I’d be nothing. I’m so proud to be bringing this gold medal back to everyone here.
“This medal belongs to everyone here.”
A devout Christian, Taylor thanked everyone in Ireland who had prayed for her success in London.
She said: “I know I had the whole nation praying for me - and I felt the presence of God in that stadium.”
Dad Pete, who doubles as Katie’s coach, also addressed the huge crowd.
He said: “It’s unbelievable to be here. The plan was to go away on holidays for a few weeks but it was good to be back in my own bedroom having been away for four weeks.
“We can’t thank everyone enough.”
As the band struck up ‘Nobody Does It Better’ and amended the chorus to ‘Katie You’re The Best’, the boxer left for an emotional reunion with her grandmother Kathleen Cranley in a nearby hotel.