Katie Taylor: ‘Qualifying for Rio Olympics is my only focus’

Katie Taylor says she is not concerned about Zika virus, as Olympic Council assures athletes of safety plans

Katie Taylor: ‘Qualifying for Rio Olympics is my only focus’

World boxing champion Katie Taylor says she is not worried about travelling to Rio this summer, despite ongoing concerns surrounding the spread of the Zika virus in South America.

Taylor revealed that the Olympic Council of Ireland have met with athletes and are making preparations to protect Team Ireland from the mosquito-borne virus, which can lead to women giving birth to babies with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.

On Monday, US football goalkeeper Hope Solo said she had concerns about travelling to Brazil, telling Sports Illustrated: “If I had to make the choice today, I wouldn’t go.”

Taylor, however, says she is not overly concerned about the Zika virus. “It’s not really something that I’m thinking too much about at the moment, it’s definitely out of my control,” she said at yesterday’s I WISH conference in Cork City Hall.

“At the moment I’m just focusing on getting to Rio first thing, and to qualify, and once I qualify hopefully I start thinking about that. I know that the Olympic Council of Ireland are doing everything they can do to prepare us for those viruses and to protect us when we are over there. It’s not really something that I would be too worried about, as I said, it’s out of my control. We’ve had a few meetings with them already, with the athletes, so they are preparing us for those situations,” she said.

The Olympic champion appeared at the KMPG stand at the I WISH conference, which aims to encourage young women to consider a career in science, technology, engineering or maths.

More than 2,000 young women in transition year are expected to attend the two-day conference, which concludes today. The event is an initiative from Cork Chamber, it@cork, and Cork City Council, and is supported by Science Foundation Ireland, Dell, Cork County Council, UCC and CIT.

“It’s so great to be able to inspire these young women today to get involved in male dominated subjects,” Ms Taylor said. “I know exactly what that’s all about being in a male dominated sport. Sometimes it just takes one person to step out, to be a pioneer, a trailblazer really.

“When I started boxing, there were no female boxers at all in this country. Now every boxing club is packed so, as I said, it just takes one, a person to step out and to be brave. There are so many career opportunities out there now for young women and it’s great to have the opportunity to encourage them to get involved in these new careers.”

Attendees were introduced to female role models from companies such as anchor sponsor Dell, Pfizer, TapStack, Technically Write IT, Google and Vodafone.

Anna McKenna, a Fourth Year student in Scoil Mhuire on Wellington Road, said the I WISH conference opened her eyes to the career possibilities available through science, technology, engineering and maths: “In school we are taught science subjects, and then we come to an event like this where you get to see how you can use them through different career options.

“It’s a really good event. I suppose we’re kind of conditioned to think maybe we can’t do it. It’s not hard if you put your mind to it and you really want to do it.”

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