Katie Taylor’s father has claimed the row over the Irish Olympic team’s homecoming has taken the gloss off his daughter’s gold medal achievement.
Pete Taylor is fuming after reports that he blocked a formal reception for the Irish team on their return to Dublin on Monday.
Newspaper reports on Sunday quoted an Olympic Council of Ireland spokesman saying that Pete, Katie’s coach and dad, was against the idea of a Dublin reception when one was already planned for her hometown of Bray.
The Sunday Times quoted the spokesman as saying, “It was Katie Taylor’s father who did not want to do it, and what is the point of having a homecoming if Katie is not going to be there.
“Peter would be very influential in the whole organisation, because of the status of Katie Taylor. There is no point in doing it if he did not want it. Mr Taylor is focusing on the Bray event.”
Taylor has reacted angrily to the report and denied any involvement at all in the decision making process regarding the team’s homecoming.
He told the Irish Times: “Neither I nor anyone in the Taylor family had anything to do with the decision. We were out for a meal - we were not around when the decision was made.
“I don’t know why my name is being dragged into this. It’s without substance, and those few stupid words in the paper have taken the gloss off everything Katie has achieved.”
The Olympic Council of Ireland has now tried to distance itself from the Sunday Times story and the remarks made by its spokesman.
A statement from the organisation says it was a ‘mistake’ to suggest Pete Taylor had blocked a Dublin homecoming but denied there was any need to apologise to the Taylor family.
The Irish team will now return to their families after their arrival in Dublin on Monday afternoon, then will re-assemble for a reception hosted by the city council on Wednesday.
Coach Taylor added, “I do not understand how anyone could say I would be responsible for stopping such celebrations, when all week we have been commending the fans. The fans won us gold. It is disgraceful and very hurtful for both of us.
“As far as I am aware there never were any plans for a bus for the Olympic athletes from the airport to Stephen’s Green on Monday. There was never, ever a bus going to be running.
“We have however been aware of plans for an open-topped bus in Bray.
“When someone speculated there might also be such a bus in Dublin I said I hoped the two would not clash. That was the only comment I made about the possibility of an open-topped bus in Dublin as well”
Wicklow councillor Nicky Kelly, a friend of the Taylor family, told the Irish Times that the boxing coach was ‘totally distraught’ over the OCI spokesman’s comments.
Independent councillor Kelly said: “He feels besmirched by the innuendo and that it has taken from the massive achievements of Katie, the family and the people of Ireland.
“Where were some of these people when the Taylor family were looking for proper facilities for Katie? Ireland’s only gold medallist prepared for the Olympics in a shed without a shower or toilet.
“She was probably the only winner of a gold medal at the London Olympics to have prepared in such primitive conditions. It’s disgusting that the commitment of the Taylor family and Katie’s achievements should be undermined in this way.”
Irish boxing team head coach Billy Walsh was also critical of the comments made by the OCI spokesman.
Walsh said, “That piece in the paper that Pete had stopped the parade or celebrations when we came back - there’s no such thing. He wasn’t even in the room when the decision was made by the athletes that they didn’t want it.
“For some reason somebody is bandying his name around and he is absolutely livid - and it’s ruining his Olympic Games for him.
“He had no hand, act nor part to play in it. We are shattered physically and mentally, we want to get back to our loved ones, have a little celebration at home and if the nation wants us to have a celebration we’ll have that.”