'Amazing' welcome for boxing queen

Mon, May 21, 2012, 01:00

HOME CAME the conquering heroine to a reception she had never envisaged.

Katie Taylor ought to be used to triumphant homecomings having won a fourth world boxing title in a row, but nothing prepared her for the crowds which greeted her arrival back from China yesterday evening.

The elfin-like fighter was dwarfed by the milling crowds as soon as she came through the arrivals hall at Dublin airport which had been decked out for another set of conquering heroes, the Leinster rugby team.

Several hundred well-wishers and friends were on hand, their numbers swelled from previous years. Her unprecedented triumphs in the city of Qinhaungdao over her nearest rival, Russian boxer Sofya Ochigava, have ensured a bye into the Olympic quarter-final leaving her just one fight away from a coveted Olympic medal, the crowning glory of her brilliant sporting career.

Taylor looked none the worse from her 14-hour flight, which included an Amsterdam stopover.

The good-humoured crowd enveloped her with a blizzard of digital and camera phones. They sang Olé, Olé, Olé while Taylor signed autograph books, flags, gum shields, head guards and anything else that was available.

She posed with a three-month old boy and with dozens of schoolchildren who came out to greet her, throwing a Tricolour around her shoulders.

Sporting her latest gold medal, she was followed closely by her beaming father and coach Peter who became a grandfather for the fifth time while he was away.

Katie’s two-week-old niece, whom she cradled in her arms for the cameras, is appropriately named Madeleine Hope Taylor.

Peter Taylor said carrying the best hopes of the Irish nation for a medal at the Olympics was a “privilege” that many athletes would like to have. “It was a special world championship to win. If she wasn’t winning gold medals, nothing would be expected of her,” he said.

After staying for about 30 minutes, Taylor left for a civic reception at the Ballywaltrim Community Centre in her hometown of Bray last night.

For her part, the 25-year-old boxer described the reception as “amazing”. “I didn’t expect this at all to be honest. I didn’t know how big it was when I was over in China,” she said. Forewarned is forearmed for London.