Watch our Olympic champion in action in Bipolar Empire’s music video, Feel That You Own It.
OMG we’re not the better of that excitement and we weren’t even in the ring! The nation erupted with joy as Katie Taylor from Bray beat Russia’s Sofya Ochigava in the lightweight final at the ExCeL, taking the gold medal for Ireland and thrilling the whole world with her skills. All that hard work and dedication and sacrifice has now paid off, and Katie has finally reaped the rewards that she truly deserves. Congratulations to you Katie and your parents Pete and Bridget achieving your dream of an Olympic Gold, we at RSVP are thrilled for you.
To watch Katie’s match or to see her receiving her gold medal, click here. Make sure you have the hankies ready!!
While Katie won the last fight they had, it wasn’t a sure thing as Katie lost the previous one to the powerful Russian. When RSVP interviewed her recently, Katie spoke about fighting Sofya. Read all about it below!
If you missed yesterday’s fight where Katie beat Tajikistan’s Mavzuna Chorieva 17-9 , watch it on this link here
In honour of Katie’s amazing victory, here we present an interview that RSVP did with the Bray athlete a couple of months ago, before she even knew if she would definitely qualify, in which she talks about her hopes and aspirations, having no time for romance and damaging her face.
When RSVP caught up with three-time world champion boxer Katie Taylor and her mum Bridget at the Gibson Hotel in Dublin recently, it was on rare day off for the pretty, quiet 25-year-old, who is currently in training for the 2012 Olympics. Having begun boxing at the age of 10, Katie has become a phenomenon in female amateur boxing, competing in the lightweight class.
From Bray, in Co. Wicklow, the boxer is Bridget and her husband Pete’s youngest child, and she has three older siblings, Lee, Sarah and Peter. She is coached by her dad Peter, who was also a very successful amateur boxer. Katie, who was recently crowned European champion, is currently on a strict training schedule, as her goal is achieving gold at the Olympics in 2012 in the 60kg lightweight category.
Proctor & Gamble, the company behind brands such as Fairy, Olay and Gillette, have named Katie as their ambassador for Ireland. She and Bridget are both involved in the P&G Proud Sponsor of Mums Campaign, which recognises, celebrates and thanks mothers for the important roles they play in their families’ lives. RSVP caught up with them both to talk about life in and out of the ring, the pressures of competing on the world stage, and why mums are so important!
Congratulations on winning the European Championships in Rotterdam recently Katie. You fought Sofya Ochigava in the final, who had beaten you a previous match in the Czech Republic. Did you feel that the fight was going to go your way while it was actually happening?
Katie: I thought it was very close but I knew that she wasn’t catching me with many shots. It was such a technical fight, and the tactics going into it were perfect, but I had to really concentrate on every moment as any slip-up could cost me the fight. One or two points can change the whole outcome. Obviously she beat me before so everyone was talking about the prospect of the two of us meeting again. It has been such a hard year with plenty of training camps so I was well-prepared and in the best shape I’ve ever been, but you have to perform on the day too. My family were there, which was great, as it’s brilliant to have their support there when you’re away.
Bridget: Katie had five really tough fights in six days with different opponents but she performed brilliantly. I think her best fight was the final, because she boxed against Sofya who is a two-time world champion and reversed the decision that she had against her in their previous fight. You can actually see how much the standard has gone up, even since Katie’s last major championship. I think it’s to do with the Olympics. The women have all raised their game, and they are going up and down in weight to fit into the three weight categories.
Did the fact that Sofya won the previous encounter add to the pressure and the nerves you were feeling?
Katie: Well it was a big fight, and you want to prove to everyone that you can beat the girl. I’m always very nervous before my fights, especially in the major competitions, and when I won, it was great and it was a huge relief first of all. There is always so much pressure on me as everyone nearly expects me to win, but I’ve had years and years of experience now so I know how to deal with it. It’s very disappointing when you lose obviously, but it’s all part and parcel of it. I think you learn more from your losses than your wins.
Bridget: Katie and Sofya were both at opposite ends of the draw, so there was a lot of talk about the possibility of them meeting. Everyone was looking forward to it, and when it came around, obviously we were nervous because the girl had been boxing well through the tournament. She’s a very tricky boxer who leads with her right hand – an orthodox boxer leads with their left hand – so that makes it more difficult. I think Pete got the tactics just right, because he said that Katie had to use her feet and be patient and not rush in – it was a very tactical fight and it was exciting to watch and we didn’t relax until it was over. We were really elated for Katie when she won – it was brilliant.
Not that it’s likely to happen, but how would you feel if you didn’t qualify for the Olympics Katie?
Katie: There is no point in thinking about that really, because if I lose, there will be other qualifiers and life goes on. It’s been getting tougher recently and you can see that the standard has gone up and up over the past few years. I think you learn from every fight and I still have so many things to improve on and work on, which is great.
I never really think too far ahead – I just focus on each fight and think about what I have to do in each one to get to the next stage. It’s going to be a really challenging and exciting few months ahead as it will be the biggest competition of my life. A lot of people think I’m already there at the Olympics, but they don’t realise that I have to qualify first and anything can happen. But I’ll try my best and train as hard as I can and hopefully go into that competition in the best shape I can possibly be.
Bridget: People nearly expect Katie to win now but they don’t realise how difficult it is, because each fight is so different in its own way. The qualifiers for the Olympics are inChina in May, so that’s where the focus is on now.
As Katie’s mother, is it hard for you to see watch her in the ring Bridget, with the risk of her getting hurt by her opponent or losing a fight?
Bridget: I’ve seen her in difficulty in the ring and it’s tough and it’s hard to watch, but at the same time, I also see the positive sides to it all. When I’m at a fight, I’m usually like someone possessed, so I like to pick somewhere in the stadium where I’m on my own, so people don’t think I’m mad. I pace up and down talking to myself, or to anyone else who will listen to me! If I’m not there, I’m in agony at home. I get so nervous throughout the day, and I almost hate it when the phone finally rings with the news. Katie’s talent never ceases to amaze me, and people don’t see how hard it is before a fight with all of the training and having to keep yourself motivated. But when you see her having won a fight or a championship and there’s a medal around her neck, you realise that this is what it’s all for.
Do you ever worry about damaging your lovely face during a fight Katie?
Katie: No, not at all, to be honest. It never enters my mind when I step into the ring, I’ve had a broken nose a few times before, but it can always be fixed and if I wanted to get it straightened I could. I think when you look back on your life, you would prefer to think that you were a world champion boxer than what you looked like.
Bridget: Katie and I had a conversation early on about how things can go wrong and you can break bones and get black eyes, etc. Apart from breaking her nose she’s had a couple of facial injuries, and initially it worried me because she’s a pretty girl. She doesn’t want to have her face broken up, but it’s part and parcel of it all.
Your dad Pete is also your trainer. Does that make your relationship complicated?
Katie: First and foremost he’s my father, and that comes first for both of us really. We have a great relationship and he’s always there for me too. He just wants me to enjoy my boxing and he looks after everything and takes the pressure away from me. My whole family is great – we’re all very close and get on really well, and don’t really have many arguments.
Bridget: It really is a family affair so it’s just about supporting Katie and being there for her. When she’s at home, we just say to her to keep taking little steps towards the Olympics, which is her dream. Pete works out her training day-by-day and has a weekly plan, and there is a lot of pressure on her so we just try to get her to focus on today and don’t look too far ahead. Anything can happen – you can get injured, for example, but all you can do is be positive and not worry about what might happen. Normally Katie does a training session in the morning and then she’s back in the house and l’m there, so we are together quite a lot. We’d have a bit of lunch together, and the odd time we’d go shopping, and if she has a day off, she likes to go out to the cinema with friends or whatever.
We presume you live in sports gear Katie, but do you enjoy fashion and style?
Katie: I like to dress up and look nice, and while I wouldn’t be doing it every day, I don’t mind doing it the odd time at all. My style is very casual, but I like wearing nice labels or whatever, and if I was going out I wouldn’t mind wearing a dress. It’s always nice to get dressed up for occasions like award ceremonies. I wouldn’t be doing it every day but I don’t mind it the odd time at all.
Do you think you’re single because your success at boxing might put men off asking you out?
Katie: I don’t think l’m intimidating to men, but what do I know? At the moment I wouldn’t want a romantic life to be honest, because I wouldn’t have the energy to put into it. When I retire from boxing, they’re the things I can always catch up on, but I don’t really feel like l’m missing out on anything as this is what I love to do. I have no social life for two or three months before a competition and sometimes I miss seeing my friends. You have to make a lot of sacrifices to get to where you want though.
Bridget: I suppose there’s an element where people wonder if she’s missing out on parts of life because of her schedule or regime, but nobody would be good at anything if they did it half-heartedly. Where would greatness come from otherwise? If you want to play the piano you have to practise the whole time – to succeed at anything you have to be disciplined.
Apart from the Olympics, what would you like to see happening for Katie in the future?
Bridget: I don’t know what the future will hold for her when she eventually retires. I suppose I’d like to see her settled down with a family one day, and all those normal things that you want for your child. At the end of the day, I’d be happy as long as she’s happy with what she’s doing. I think she’d like to travel and do some charity work if she had more time – she has a really good heart.
Christian life is very much at the core of your family life, and you regularly attend St Mark’s Pentecostal Church on Pearse Street. Is it important to you to pray before a fight?
Katie: There’s always a lot of praying done! I wouldn’t be standing here as European champion if it wasn’t for God in my life really and for what he did for me inRotterdam. I just feel that this is exactly what he wants me to do, and I just want to honour him in everything I do and live a really great life for him. My mother always prays with me before every fight, and everyone in the family is constantly praying for me, as are the people in our church.
Bridget: We believe that everything that Katie has achieved comes from God, and what she’s doing is a gift from him. I always pray with her before every fight for protection and strength. We aren’t praying for winning. It’s just putting things in his hands and praying that there will be no obstacles in the way and things like that. Even when it comes to negative comments from people, it’s important for Katie to know that everything is in his hands.
What made you and your mum Bridget get involved as ambassadors for the Proctor and Gamble “Proud Sponsor of Mums” campaign Katie?
Katie: It was the campaign’s family element really. It’s brilliant to be associated with such a huge company and getting the support and help from them has been amazing. My mam has done so much for me it’s embarrassing, and I know how important it is to have that support. I can always hear her in the arena during a fight – she’s usually the loudest person in the place! She’s gorgeous and I think she’s great – she’s a very strong woman. She’s very level-headed and practical and is very much her own person, and is a great support to me when it gets tough. She has always been the rock of the family, and helps me to put things into perspective, and keeps everyone together, which I suppose is what mothers do.
Irish boxing champion Katie Taylor and her Mum Bridget are ambassadors for the P&G Proud Sponsor of Mums campaign. P&G is putting mums at the heart of its campaign in the run up to London 2012, recognising, celebrating and thanking them for the important roles they play in their families’ lives. P&G is the company behind some of the world’s best known household brands, including Ariel, Duracell, Fairy, Gillette, Pampers and Olay. The ‘Proud Sponsor of Mums’ campaign will feature throughout P&G’s sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympic Games. P&G’s Olympic Games partnership is the most far-reaching in Olympic history, beginning with London 2012 and incorporating Sochi 2014, Rio 2016 and the 2018 and 2020 Olympic Games.
Interview: Andrea Smith
Photographer: Sarah Doyle
Styling: Catherine Condell
Assisted by Ashley Fitzgerald
Hair: Joanne Kelly
Make Up: Natalie Kinsella
Location: The Gibson Hotel,Dublin