Taylor rises above PR guff to show mark of Olympic champion
TIPPING POINT:It’s been awards season, that most wonderful time of the year, when the feats of Ireland’s great sportspeople are toasted and praised – at the end of which Katie Taylor picks up the overall gong for 2012. By the end, nobody was even trying to generate suspense.
Opening the envelope was like looking east in the morning – a prelude to the inevitable dawn.
If any name but Taylor’s was announced, shock levels would have been Mayan. Which is as it should be – if there’s one thing everyone can agree upon, it is that she is brilliant.
There was certainly no change in that vibe when the Olympic champion collected The Irish Times/Sports Council Sportswoman of the Year Award a few days ago. A room jammed with accomplished, bright and hugely talented sportspeople all sang from the same hymn sheet. The standing ovation was no orchestration. The only thing more spontaneous was the leap on to the stage by political suits elbowing to get as close as possible to Taylor in front of the cameras.
What was interesting, though, was a little Sports Council video played before the scrum began. A slick montage of Taylor, training and sparring, worked well as a brief glimpse into the sweaty day-to-day reality of getting that good at such a ferociously unforgiving discipline.
And then, at the end, there were arty shots of her peering into the distance and/or camera with three slogans flashing up in front of her: Some do it for the fame, declared the first; Some do it for the money; followed by, But some do it for us.
It was all very snappy, PR slick and pretty much rubbish.
Taylor does what she does for many reasons. Because she loves boxing, wants to be as good as she can be at it, feels women’s boxing deserves better than it has got over the years, any number of motivations. But boil it down and she does it for herself.
No one could do what she does otherwise. In fact, no sportsperson of any calibre can endure the sacrifices needed to be successful unless they reduce motivation to its most basic. And worrying about “us” is simply not on, especially when “us” were profoundly indifferent to those years of slog with her father, Pete, in a dingy gym in Bray that as facilities go didn’t even merit a small “f”.
But Taylor played ball, smiled and allowed Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Co their chummy shots with the sporting great – the same Enda who just seven months earlier visited the same spartan gym in Bray and told Peter Taylor to submit yet another grant application and it would be looked after; the sort of mindset that has helped develop a reputation for sports funding allocation as little more than a roving benefit which travels the highways and byways in co-relation to the transient location of the Minister for Sport’s constituency.