Katie Taylor wants to be ‘greatest ever’ after heroics in Baku
There was a glorious homecoming yesterday morning at Dublin Airport, where Ireland’s six medal winners at the inaugural European Games in Baku passed through the arrival gates of Terminal 1.
oxing gold medallists Katie Taylor and Michael O’Reilly garnered much of the spotlight, but there was also an emotional reception for boxing duo Brendan Irvine and Sean McComb, as well as mixed badminton doubles siblings Chloe and Sam Magee.
A unanimous triumph over France’s Estelle Mossely ensured that Taylor claimed the 18th major medal of her glittering career, and she was delighted to secure the top prize in the women’s lightweight division.
“I’m delighted to win gold at the first European Games, and it’s great to be part of a fantastic Irish team. I’m just delighted with how well the whole team did,” the Bray native remarked.
“It’s never easy coming back with these gold medals. I think people just assume that I sail through these competitions, but actually if you look my semi-final was a very tough contest, as was the final.”
In spite of her achievements to date, Taylor is always aiming to maintain the standards that have helped her to stay at number one in the lightweight world rankings for an unprecedented 10 years in succession. Remaining at the top of her game is a constant motivation, and she also has a desire to be remembered as ‘the greatest female boxer of all time’.
“I’m just going to keep going now. I want to be the greatest female boxer of all time and I think I’m definitely on the right path. I think I’m coming close, but I’m definitely going to add a few more titles to my name.
“To stay at the top of your game is always such a challenge, but it’s one I absolutely relish.”
As ever, Taylor was joined in Dublin Airport by her father Pete, who is a constant presence in her fighting corner, alongside Zaur Antia. Pete hinted at a possible appearance on Andy Lee’s card this coming November, and also confirmed that Katie had carried a wrist injury into the European Games.
“We’re delighted with the way it went, especially with the injury she was carrying into it as well. There was no concern in the bouts, but there was a concern coming into it as well.
“There’s a few weeks off now, and we’ll have a look at her wrist. Get some injections into it, I think. It doesn’t need an operation. It’s a cartilage problem. It’s the loading when you’re training, but it’s okay.
“We’ve been asked to box on the Andy Lee card [in November]. We’ll speak to them, and then obviously the Irish Championships and then we’ll probably have a few fights before the Qualifiers,” Pete Taylor stated. The Baku Games was also an unforgettable experience for Portlaoise’s O’Reilly, whose defeat of Azerbaijan’s Xaybula Musalov in the middleweight decider was regarded as a major surprise. O’Reilly was confident of making a big impact in a competitive weight class, and although there were some doubts in his mind going up against a home favourite, he knew that he had produced a performance worthy of a gold medal.
“I don’t go to make up numbers, you know. I went out there for one thing, to get the gold medal and that is what I got,” O’Reilly said.
“Probably the hardest [fight] was the final against the home favourite from Azerbaijan. In the end, I knew I won the fight, but I always had a little doubt in my mind going up against the home favourite. But yeah, very happy with it.”