London’s ExCel arena became a part of Ireland this afternoon as legions of supporters decked in green, white and gold packed into South Arena 2 before 4:45pm to watch the person who would ultimately become Ireland’s latest Olympic Gold medallist – Bray heroine Katie Taylor.
The atmosphere for Katie’s semi-final win yesterday was described by venue officials as ‘the best yet’, but Irish fans dug deep into their voiceboxes one more to again ensure an electric atmosphere.
After trailing after Round 2 the loyal band of fans helped push her over the line to deliver a historic Gold medal.
Sports minister Michael Ring was among those who witnessed the latest chapter in Irish sporting history.
“It was a great fight and we would all want our stroke tablets after it,” he said.
“I was never as excited before in my life. She did brilliantly and done the country proud.
“It was like a venue in any part of Ireland – the crowd was there, the atmosphere was there. Irish people are amazing where they get the tickets.
“I want to congratulate Katie Taylor, her father and mother and her family.
“Also the Irish Amateur Boxing Association – they have all done tremendous work and have done the country proud.”
Cowper, Dublin resident Emmet Ryan was the worst for wear after an intense four rounds, but felt it was all worth it to see Taylor take Gold.
“I am so hoarse after that,” he said.
“I came over expecting something special. After the second round the groan going across the Excel Arena was tragedy in action.
“After all of these years were we not going to get the pay-off we were hoping for?
“What an amazing third round she pulled out. Katie just came out swinging and she beat the holy hell out of the Russian.
He added, “I have been to Heineken Cup finals and All-Ireland finals and other events, but I can’t recall an Irish crowd so ecstatic and so welcoming.”
Bernie Wall travelled across with her daughter Ciara from Terenure this morning, after they were lucky enough to secure front row tickets.
“It’s a wonderful, wonderful occasion here. The atmosphere is electric,” Bernie said.
Bernie was present in Greenhills Road, Tallaght in 1992 to welcome home our last Gold medallist Michael Carruth.
“It’s 20 years since someone brought a Gold to Ireland and it’s great to be here to witness a piece of Olympic history today.”
Interior Design student Ciara was delighted to be among the legions of Irish fans.
“It was really a great fight and it was really well worth seeing,” she said.
“It proved the worth of allowing Womens Boxing into the Olympics.”