While Canadian reporters shined our brief spotlight on Canada’s Mary Spencer, the rest of the Olympic boxing venue has been busy falling head over heals in love with Irish fighter Katie Taylor.
The stadium announcer at ExCel Arena on Tuesday announced that the loudest the boxing venue has been to date two weeks into the Olympic competition – men or women – was when Taylor entered the ring on Monday, when it measured at an ear-blistering 113 decibels.
The four-time world champion is Ireland’s greatest hope for a gold medal at the London Olympics. To further describe the Irish love for her, as of Day 11, Ireland has no medals at all. In fact, in Olympic history, Ireland has just 23 medals total, only eight of them gold.
Taylor fought Great Britain’s Natasha Jonas in a 60-kg quarterfinal bout that should well have been the gold medal final for its level of skill and excitement.
While the arena holds just 10,000 people, when Taylor was in the ring, it sounded like a World Cup soccer match, Irish out-chanting the Brits. She received a thunderous ovation from thousands of Irish fans, waving orange, white and green flags, belting out their anthem and dressed in green ties, tri-colour wigs and shamrock hats.
She is trained by her father, and the fast-footed athlete gave up playing for Ireland’s national soccer team to pursue her boxing passion. Taylor has won 130 of her 137 bouts lifetime.
Taylor, the top seed, pulled out a 26-15 victory and as she climbed out of the ring, she turned to the audience and flexed with a holler, which again made the place go mad. She seemed to breathe in their adoration and savour it. One of the BBC’s commentators would call her “the greatest female amateur boxer in history, period.”
Reporters from all corners of the world dropped what they were writing and ran to interview area after the fight to hear her speak. Lined dozens deep, media jammed in, just trying to get near the congenial Irish champ.
“I am here to win gold – nothing else,” Taylor said. “Anything other than a gold medal will be disappointing. At the end of the week, I will be an Olympic champion.” Taylor fights again on Wednesday, taking on Tajikistan’s Mavzuna Chorieva in the semifinal round.