Centrality of faith in Taylor's life not the big story
SIDELINE CUT:The importance of faith to athletes is one of the most common themes in sport. Katie Taylor’s religious views are respected but her sporting achievements are what move people, writes KEITH DUGGAN
SO HERE is how the issue of Katie Taylor and faith works on planet earth – or at least on planet Olympics. Yes, there was much ‘squirming’ by sports presenters and journalists when she gave her post-fight interviews at the Excel Arena. But Jesus or Katie Taylor’s views on Him had nothing to do with the discomfort. Nope, the reasons were more banal.
To make things clear: what happens after any Olympic athlete competes is that he or she is guided through a long parade of journalists known as the mixed zone. Television comes first. Radio follows. Poor doomed print is last. It doesn’t matter whether you are Mesempe Theko (one of the Lesotho’s four Olympic athletes) or LeBron James, you have to go through this catwalk.
After Katie Taylor’s fights, every Irish journalist with accreditation was waiting for her. The way the mixed zone works is that each media group has a dedicated little corral so that when Katie Taylor came through, there were at least 30 people packed into a chicken-coop situation, thrusting voice recorders in her general direction and trying to catch a word or two of what she said.
Taylor was brilliant, by the way, after every interview: gracious and funny and politely oblivious to just how undignified, frankly, the gathering in front of her must have looked. Generally, she stopped in front of the print group for three or four minutes – she was warming down fast and her coaches didn’t want her hanging about. Wisely.
So John Waters was correct in his column yesterday: there was a helluva lot of squirming going on there. I can attest that the body heat generated by the Fourth Estate during those moments was intense – and not in a Kathleen Turner/William Hurt kind of way. It was a crush, plain and simple and deadlines loomed at the back of everyone’s mind.
After Katie Taylor’s gold medal fight, for instance, someone recognised that to bring her through the mixed zone would have been catastrophic. Instead, she was whisked straight into a press conference in an air conditioned room in some remote corner of the Excel – which is a huge, charmless airport hanger of a venue. Press conferences are never ideal. The room was crowded and the atmosphere formal.
Again, Katie Taylor handled herself with customary poise and elegance but admitted that she was nervous, joking at one point that she was terrible at interviews and laughing on another occasion when she couldn’t remember the question.