Katie Taylor’s annus mirabilis hit its nadir as she lost her Olympic title with a tight split decision loss to Mira Potkonen, writes Daragh O Conchuir.
Taylor had already lost her world title and suffered a defeat in an Olympic qualifier before that this year but hopes were high that she would overcome the Finnish fighter she had never lost to previously to secure a first medal for Ireland’s increasingly beleaguered boxing team.
It wasn’t to be though and while there might be some question marks about the verdict – many observers felt that Taylor won three of the four rounds – this was undoubtedly far from a vintage performance by the 30-year-old.
Indeed Taylor betrayed her bewilderment in an emotional post-fight interview with RTÉ Sport when she said “I should be beating these girls.”
Katie Taylor admits it has been a very difficult year as she reflects on losing Olympic crown https://t.co/mrA7PmWJhl— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) August 15, 2016
She just about managed to hold back the tears during that interview but reportedly broke down when seeing her mother in the mixed zone straight afterwards.
Potkonen, who is a 35-year-old mother of two, was very aggressive throughout as Taylor attempted to utilise stealth and accuracy.
The Bray woman took the opener on a split but didn’t heed the warnings and she was tagged by a number of heavy right hands that turned the fight Potkonen’s favour as she took the honours unanimously, deservedly so.
Taylor produced her best round in the third, looking more like her old self as she capitalised on the openings presented to her and slipped the single shot coming in her direction from the mother of two.
Surprisingly, one judge gave that round to Potkonen and that was to be significant, as it left Taylor trailing on two scorecards going into the final two minutes.
Once more Taylor looked the busier and more accurate boxer, but Potkonen’s right was always a factor.
In the end, Mykola Karakulov awarded the verdict to Taylor by two points but Trong Nghia Vuong judged it in Potknonen’s favour by the same margin.
Clemente Carillo made it a draw and so had to choose a winner. He went against Taylor and the dream was dead.
“It’s very disappointing” said Taylor. “It’s been a very, very tough year. I’ve suffered a lot of losses this and it’s very hard to take.
“The Olympics is a dream for me. I came here, prepared very well, I gave it me best shot and it just didn’t happen. Sometimes the plans you have in your heart aren’t the same as God’s plans.
“I have to thank everyone for their support and prayers, I’m so humbled by that. God is so great. It’s still a privilege and honour to be here.
She continued: “I thought she probably won the second round. I thought the other three rounds went my way. I’ll have to look back on it but it’s very disappointing.
“I should be beating those girls. I don’t know what to say about it. Those girls shouldn’t be beating me I don’t think.”
Judy Reynolds was unable to carry on her stunning form over the past 12 months into the Olympic dressage final today but making the top 18 was an outstanding achievement for a combination that is ranked 25th in the world.
Judy Reynolds - Vancouver K score pic.twitter.com/NiAM3kX31e— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) August 15, 2016
Indeed Reynolds has flown up those rankings over the past year, making history by becoming the first Irish rider to reach the World Cup final, where she finished eighth and then winning her first major Grand Prix.
The duo have broken numerous Irish records in the process and having performed right up to their best in the Grand Prix, set another new mark in the Grand Prix Special to create more history by becoming the first Irish rider to reach the Olympics Freestyle final.
Reynolds and Vancouver K have been performing very well in this aspect of dressage during the qualification programme and set their best mark of 79.700% when cementing the Olympic spot in Doha last March.
While she appeared very pleased with her performance, the judges penalised her on the technical side of the scoring. In stark contrast, four of the seven judges marked her above 80.000 for artistic merit but that was only enough to give her a score of 75.696%.