She made it an unforgettable Olympics: that's what Katie did
THE FLAME has been extinguished. But we’ll bask a while longer in its afterglow, if that’s alright.
The Olympic Games came to a spectacular witching-hour close last night, with a three-hour musical celebration mirroring the irresistible exuberance, good humour and spectacle of the last two weeks.
Stratford rocked for a riotous finale in a show which rolled out music legends at a bewildering pace and then welcomed the world’s supreme athletes to the stadium for one last taste of the 30th Olympiad.
And, look, there was Katie Taylor, the hand-picked pick of the champions, chosen to represent her peers in honouring the game’s magnificent corps of volunteers.
Bray is bracing itself for today’s welcome-home parade.
But what an Olympic closing act. It was superstar central under the Toblerone spotlights, with added local strut.
And London, putting on a communal smile, let out the biggest, happiest, classiest, cheesiest sigh of relief since Armistice Day. Job done. Job very well done.
Then the Mayor of London handed the baton over to a swirling Samba advance party from Rio. Boris Johnson died and went to heaven.
Well done to our neighbours and our neighbour’s children. They pulled out all the stops and delivered a momentous Olympics Games. So did we.
Five medals in the locker – Katie’s gold, John Joe’s silver and a bronze treble from Michael, Paddy and Cian. Ireland’s best performance since 1956.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny was in London for the closing ceremony and he also attended the boxing on Saturday night, when Mullingar’s John Joe Nevin won silver.
“I was talking to John Joe, he has no quarrel with the result,” said Enda. “He was saying he let people down. John Joe Nevin let nobody down. He’s come a long and difficult way. Winning an Olympic silver medal doesn’t come easy. He should be proud of himself, his performance, his family and the entire team.”
The Taoiseach met Katie Taylor away from the cameras. She was sitting anonymously in the crowd with her father Peter, and the rest of the boxing crew. They had a conversation. Enda, as he does, gave her a hug and a peck on the cheek.
Afterwards, the Taoiseach reeled away, starstruck. “She’s wonderful” he said.
Katie Taylor is the woman who made the London Olympics unforgettable for us. Yes, we thrilled to the elegance, power and insouciance of Usain. Marvelled at Mo Farah. Became mesmerised by the mastery of Michael Phelps. Pedalled that bike with Bradley Wiggins.
We winced as the weightlifters toppled with a thump. Raised an eyebrow when Andy Murray steamrollered Roger Federer. Laughed at the Chinese badminton players who didn’t want to play.
No disrespect to the others – sure, they understand it themselves – but it was Taylor who took our London Olympics and elevated the experience to an unforgettable week of anticipation, anxiety and eventual elation.She possesses qualities that people like to see in themselves and their children. Modest, unassuming but hard-working and with an unwavering determination, Katie’s love of boxing is only second to her love of her family and her God.
It’s been a marvellous games. For so, so many reasons. Hats off to the neighbours.