Friday, August 14, 2009

TAYLOR LOOKS FORWARD TO LONDON 2012

Boxer Katie Taylor has got her chance to compete at the 2012 London Olympics.

In Berlin, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) executive decided yesterday women’s boxing, which narrowly missing out on inclusion at Beijing last year, will be part of the London programme. Women will compete in flyweight (48–51kg), lightweight (56–60kg), and middleweight (69–75kg) divisions, with 12 boxers in each weight.

Taylor, aged 23, is a double world champion, three times European champion and last year was voted the best female boxer in the world by the sport’s governing body, the AIBA. She has lost only lost once in 61 fights, with 39 consecutive victories in the past three years. Her great ambition was to compete at the Olympics. China and Russia in particular can now be expected to throw more energy into their women’s boxing programs, but Taylor still has a good chance of taking a medal in London.

Boxing was the only sport in the games without female participation. Last month, a Canadian supreme court judge rebuked the IOC for its bias towards male athletes which made yesterday's decision inevitable. London will be the first Olympic Games where men and women compete in all the sports on the programme. Women's boxing made a brief appearance on the Olympic schedule in 1904.

With the news that rugby and golf, for both men and women, are to be included in the 2016 games, Ireland's hopes of Olympic success in the future have brightened.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Taylor. “This is a dream come true, not only for me, but for female boxers throughout the world who have worked so hard to gain Olympic status. Our sport has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and this decision has added a whole new dimension to the sport. ”

The Olympic Council of Ireland's president Pat Hickey welcomed the decision. Mr Hickey, who is also president of the European Olympic Committees, had lobbied for the sport’s inclusion. “The great thing is the decision is in stone,” he said. “The good luck was that that court case in Canada was a stinging rebuke to the IOC. I know it was Katie’s dream to compete in the Olympics, and now it is certain that women’s boxing will be in London.”

There is a small downside for Irish hopes of boxing medals. So that the total number of male and female boxers can remain at the current quota of 286 athletes, one of the men's weight categories must go.

Likleiest candidate is the 48kg light flyweight division in which Paddy Barnes won a bronze medal last sumer. Barnes may now be forced to move up to the 51kg flyweight class, which is more competitive.