Ireland’s gold medal magnet Katie Taylor arrived home to a rapturous reception yesterday after winning her fifth World Elite lightweight title in Jeju, South Korea — and she is already targeting further success.
Taylor, along with the Irish squad of Michaela Walsh, Joanne Lambe and Claire Grace, arrived back in Dublin Airport after claiming her 17th major international gold medal.
The Bray BC orthodox beat Azerbaijan’s Yana Allekseeva in Monday’s 60kg World final to match Mary Kom’s (India) record of winning five consecutive world titles.
Her next target will be the inaugural European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan next June. Taylor, Ceire Smith and Michaela Walsh have been named on the Ireland squad.
“The final was tough. It was a tactical fight and I was delighted to come through it. I was thinking about it (Kom’s record) all week, I was hoping that I was going to equal that record, she said.
“But it’s been such a tough year with the European and World Championships, two major competitions. It’s just a relief.”
Taylor added that her first stop last night would be her grandmother’s house.
“The first place I always go too is my granny to show her the medal.”
Tommy Murphy, President of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA), described Taylor as a consistent source of pride, sentiments echoed by chief executive Fergal Carruth and head coach Billy Walsh.
“All of our boxers did their country proud in South Korea and Katie’s win was absolutely tremendous. Every time she competes in international competition, she is magnificent,” said Murphy.
“She is phenomenal, a consistent source of pride.”
Taylor’s dad, Pete, Zuar Antia and Gerry Storey were working Ireland’s corner in Jeju. Anna Moore of the St Francis BC in Limerick was Irish team manager.
Team Ireland finished in joint fifth spot in the medals table at the 67-national tournament in Jeju.
Taylor senior and Antia will be back in Ireland’s corner on Friday night with Billy Walsh when Ireland face the French Elite team at Dublin’s National Stadium.
Paddy Barnes and London 2012 Olympians Darren O’Neill and Adam Nolan, a team mate of Katie Taylor at the Bray BC, will line out for Ireland.
Barnes is the only Irish boxer to win two Olympic medals, but that’s a stat that Taylor, the current Olympic champion, has vowed to change at Rio 2016.
Having demonstrated that she still rules the lightweight class with an iron fist(s) — and a modest persona which disguises a ruthless will to win — last Monday, the question is who can stop Ireland’s most successful athlete going all the way at the 31st Olympiad in Rio?
In the context of the biennial AIBA Women’s Elite Championships, it will be a relatively short turnaround for Taylor, as she will be defending that title in just over a year.
Kazakhstan will host the 2016 World Women’s Championships, which will act as a qualifier for the Rio 2016, in Astana. Likewise, Taylor could be aiming for six in a row in the Central Asian city in February 2016.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved