Irish President Michael D Higgins said today that Olympic champion boxer Katie Taylor has lifted the spirits of a nation with her gold medal success.
As the lightweight’s emotional victory resounded around the world, the President sent his personal congratulations for a deserved victory.
“Katie Taylor has lifted the spirit of the nation with her magnificent gold medal winning performance at the London Olympics,” he said.
“I want to offer my sincere congratulations to Katie, who has represented this country with such courage, skill and pride over many years.
“She truly deserves this historic and hard earned victory; it is a just reward for her dedication and commitment over the years.
“This is a wonderful day for Katie and her family and friends, who have supported her over the years – and all Irish people, wherever they are, will enjoy and share in this heart warming occasion.”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny also praised the Bray native who has dedicated her life to the pursuit of Olympic gold and was key to female boxers being accepted at London 2012.
“Katie Taylor is not only an Olympic champion, she is a force of nature whose pioneering spirit and boxing brilliance have seen her realise her personal dream of winning Olympic gold,” Mr Kenny said.
“In doing so she has set an exceptional standard and there is no doubt that she is a role model that many will follow.
“She has won the hearts and minds of the Irish people who admire her greatly and love her to bits.”
And the Taoiseach backed the assessment of Taylor’s friends, family and neighbours, and paid tribute to coach and father Peter and mother Bridget.
“Amidst it all Katie’s warmth and humility shine through,” he said.
“Her parents have been her guiding light but the exceptional relationship between Peter and Katie, her coach and father, has had a powerful impact on her career.”
The Taoiseach said Team Ireland has done the country proud with Taylor’s gold, a bronze in the bag from showjumper Cian O’Connor and three boxers, Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan and John Joe Nevin guaranteed bronze but still in the mix to go one better.
“I also wish those who have earned a place in the medals but whose journeys continue and all those still to compete the very best in the days ahead,” Mr Kenny said.
“Our Irish athletes have already made the country proud and I have no doubt that they will continue to do so.”
Sports Minister Leo Varadkar said Ireland was proud.
“Katie has already won world and European titles but I think her gold medal win today is the ultimate prize for her,” he said.
“She is a trailblazer for women’s boxing and has won the respect and acclaim nationally and internationally of her fellow athletes.
“She more than deserves the acclaim she has unanimously received and we are enormously proud of her. I hope she enjoys every moment of her win. She now joins a very elite group of athletes worldwide who have achieved Olympic gold.”
Junior minister Michael Ring, who was in the ExCeL arena, said: “The roof almost lifted here in the arena. The atmosphere was simply electric.
“I’ve always said that sport can lift the nation and Katie’s win today certainly proves that. She is a fantastic role model and I hope her win today will inspire others to take up the sport and to follow in her footsteps.”
Katie Taylor - A Timeline
1986: Born July 2 in Bray, Wicklow,
1998: Starts boxing, age 12
2005: Wins European title in Norway.
2006: Retains European title in Poland; crowned Ireland’s first women’s world boxing champion
2007: Wins her third consecutive European title in Denmark; makes Republic of Ireland football debut against Hungary.
2008: Retains world title in China; scores and is sent off in Ireland football defeat to Italy.
2009: Retains European title in Ukraine.
2010: Retains world title in Barbados.
2011: Retains European title in Holland.
2012: Retains world title in China.
August 9: Wins Olympic gold in women’s lightweight division at London 2012.