THE Institute of Sport’s director of performance management, Gary Keegan, has warned that expectations of success from boxer Katie Taylor in the 2012 Olympics will have to be ‘managed’ in the run-up to the Games.
Taylor is odds-on favourites to take gold in London, but Keegan, who worked with the Irish boxers who won three medals in Beijing, says the Bray tyro will face more pressure than any other Irish participant in the English capital.
Keegan said: “There is a real issue in managing the level of expectation when it comes to Katie. The world of boxing has changed and one significant thing she’ll face, which no other Irish athlete will face, is the level of pressure in her weight division. There are only three weight divisions for women’s boxing in London. That means those who can do so – in the weight division above her and the division below her – will converge on her division. The best in the world at 64kg and 57kg will move to confront her at 60kg, which increases the quality of individual competing by 200%.”
Keegan revealed that Taylor had overcome ankle and wrist injuries to win gold at the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Barbados, describing her as a “real champion”.
He continued: “She’s very good at saying she doesn’t try to manage external expectations, that she can only focus on what she can do. It’s extremely important to give her the right support structures. She has a very strong family structure – something we forget about in terms of support for a lot of our sports people. She has a phenomenal coach in her dad (Peter), who is a true world-class Irish coach.”
Keegan, speaking at a CIPD breakfast in the Maryborough House Hotel sponsored by RecruitIreland.com, paid glowing tribute to Taylor.
“There are very few role models like her in the country, in sport or business or whatever. She’s a phenomenal human being,” said Keegan.
“She’s also managed her own development on the basis that her own sport is changing – she’s stayed innovative and creative, never becoming complacent. She is always looking at ways to become better, because she knows the opposition are always looking at how to beat her. She’s extraordinary in understanding the importance of her preparation, and that’s where her confidence comes from – it’s important for her to have control over her training environment.”
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