Katie Taylor is the new – in every sense of the word – Olympic lightweight champion. The Bray woman beat Russian southpaw Sofya Ochigava at the ExCel in London today to become the second Irish boxer in the 101-year history of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association to win Olympic gold.
Taylor, who beat Ochigava in the 2012 AIBA World final in China and in the 2011 European final in Holland, was handed a 10-8 decision amid joyous scenes by the banks of the Thames.
The victory bridges a 20-year gap since Michael Carruth won welterweight gold at the 1992 Games in Barcelona.
Women’s boxing made its Olympic debut at London 2012 in three weight categories – flyweight, lightweight and middleweight.
Likewise, Great Britain flyweight Nicola Adams and US middleweight Claressa Shields, who both won gold today, and Taylor, are the first ever female Olympic boxing champions.
Ochigava edged 2-1 ahead by the end of the second round of today’s clash – the first finished 2-2, Taylor rocking her opponent with a big right to restore parity on the bell – but Taylor came storming to take the third 4-1 en route to sealing an historic victory from a fourth and final round in which you could cut the tension with a knife.
The newly crowned Olympic champion said:
“I dreamt of this moment so many times before. I just can’t believe it. Thank you Jesus for such a great victory today. I was the most nervous I’ve been before a fight. I had a knot in my stomach all day.
“Sofya is a fantastic boxer. Thanks to Sofya for a fantastic fight.”
Taylor added that there was no one pressing the panic button in her corner after she went a point down.
“The last thing you do is panic. It’s only one point, one punch. The last round was very close. She caught me with a few shots and I caught her with a few shots as well.
“It was such a close contest. I though I landed the cleaner punches. Thank God for such a great victory.”
Tommy Murphy, the President of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, said: “Katie is a fantastic ambassador for the sport and she now has an Olympic gold medal to add to all the other honours she has won.
“She totally deserves this for all her hard work and dedication to the sport. This is a proud, proud day for Irish amateur boxing.”
Dominic O’Rourke, IABA Director of Boxing, added: “The coaches, Pete and Zuar, got the tactics spot on. Katie had a phenomenal third round.
“This is a proud day and a fantastic result for the clubs and the coaches and female boxers in Ireland. They will be inspired by this win and they are capable of doing the same because of the systems we have in place.”
Today’s victory was the 132nd of Taylor’s career since 2001 and Irish Team manager Des Donnelly reckons that her win will be an enormous boost for John Joe Nevin, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan in Friday’s semi-finals.
“It is an absolutely fabulous occasion for Irish boxing. Katie was magnificent. absolutely terrific. We have three in the semi-finals tomorrow and the boys will be inspired by this.”
Pat Hickey, the President of the Olympic Council of Ireland, presented Taylor with gold at the medals ceremony.
Irish boxing has now won one gold and at least three bronze medals at the 30th Olympiad.
2012 Olympic Games
July 28th – Last 32
56kg – Bantamweight – John Joe Nevin (Ireland) beat Dennis Villy Ceylan (Denmark) 21-6
75kg – Middleweight – Darren O’Neill (Ireland) beat Muideen Olalekan Akanji (Nigeria) 15-6
July 29th – Last 32
69kg – Welterweight – Adam Nolan (Ireland) beat Carlos Sanchez Estacio (Ecuador) 14-8
August 1st – Last 16
56kg – Bantamweight – John Joe Nevin (Ireland) beat Kanat Abutalipov (Kazakhstan) 15-10
August 2nd – Last 16
75kg – Middleweight – Darren O’Neill (Ireland) lost to Stefan Hartel (Germany) 12-19
August 3rd – Last 16
52kg – Flyweight – Michael Conlan (Ireland) beat Duke Akeuth Micah (Ghana) 19-8
69kg – Welterweight – Adam Nolan (Ireland) lost to Andrey Zamkovoy (Russia) 9-18
August 4th – Last 16
49kg – Light-flyweight – Paddy Barnes (Ireland) beat Thomas Essomba (Cameroon) 15-10
August 5th – Quarter- final
56kg – Bantamweight – John Joe Nevin (Ireland) beat Oscar Valdez-Fierro (Mexico) 19-13
August 6th – Quarter-final
60kg – Lightweight – Katie Taylor (Ireland) beat Natasha Jonas (Great Britain) 26-15
August 7th – Quarter-final
52kg – Flyweight – Michael Conlan (Ireland) beat Nordine Ouballi (France) 22-18
August 8th – Semi-final
60kg – Lightweight – Katie Taylor (Ireland) beat Mavzuna Chorieva (Tajikistan) 17-9
August 8th – Quarter-final
49kg – Light-flyweight – Paddy Barnes (Ireland) beat Devendro Singh Laishram (India) 23-18
August 9th – Final (4.30pm session)
60kg – Lightweight- Katie Taylor (Ireland) beat Sofya Ochigava (Russia) 10-8
August 10th- Semi-Finals (1.30pm session)
56kg – Bantamweight – John Joe Nevin (Ireland) v Lazaro Estrada-Alvarez (Cuba)
August 10th – Semi-Finals (8.30pm session)
52kg – Flyweight – Michael Conlan (Ireland) v Robeisy Carrazana-Ramirez (Cuba)
August 10th – Semi-Finals (1.30pm session)
49kg – Flyweight- Paddy Barnes (Ireland) v Zou Shiming (China)
Irish 2012 Olympic squad
49Kg (Light-flyweight) Paddy Barnes (Holy Family BC, Belfast)
52kg (Flyweight) Michael Conlan (St John Bosco BC, Belfast)
56kg (Bantamweight) John Joe Nevin (Cavan BC)
60kg (Lghtweight) Katie Taylor (Bray BC, Wicklow)
69kg (Welterweight) Adam Nolan (Bray BC, Wicklow)
75kg (Middleweight) Darren O’Neill (Paulstown BC, Kilkenny)
Team Manager: Des Donnelly
Coaches: Billy Walsh, Zuar Antia, Pete Taylor
Physio: Conor McCarthy
Strength & Conditioning: John Cleary
Performance Psychologist: Gerry Hussey