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Katie Taylor appointed 'Athletes Ambassador' for inaugural European Games in Baku
by Michael O'Neill
March 4, 2015

(MAR 4) Olympic Gold medallist, Katie Taylor has been appointed as boxing’s first ‘Athletes Ambassador’ for the inaugural European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan June 12-28. Now just 100 days to the opening ceremony.

Taylor’s medal haul at major competitions stands at 17 golds, including her Olympic title, five consecutive World Championships, six consecutive European Championships, and five European Union Championships, making her the most decorated athlete in the history of women's Boxing.

(photo: ©: Baku 2015 – ‘Athletes Ambassador’ Katie Taylor)

Mr. Simon Clegg, Chief Operating Officer of Baku 2015, said: “I am delighted to welcome Katie to the Baku 2015 team as an international Athlete Ambassador. To have a champion of her calibre backing the first European Games is a great endorsement of the event, and reflects the high level of competition we will see this summer.

“I am sure Katie will very much enjoy promoting the Games through her role as an Athlete Ambassador, and we look forward to seeing her compete in Baku in June.”

Baku 2015 Athlete Ambassadors will represent their sports, and feature in marketing campaigns around the continent and on social media, to promote the first European Games.

Ms Taylor, 28, who has also represented the Republic of Ireland women’s national football team, said: “Baku 2015 will be great for European sport, and I am delighted to be involved both as an Athlete Ambassador and as a competitor. I will be doing my best to raise the Games’ profile and get the word out to as many people as possible.”

Mr Patrick Hickey, President of the Olympic Council of Ireland, said: “I have no doubt that Katie will do a great job of promoting Baku 2015 around the country, helping to build support for Ireland’s athletes in Azerbaijan this summer. As one of the world’s leading competitors in any sport, you couldn’t ask for a better ambassador for the first European Games.”

As to her own ambitions for the event, and the year ahead, the Bray woman had this to say when speaking to the ‘Irish Independent’ this week.

"My training schedule is amped up. I'm excited for the Europeans. Then the qualifying rounds for the next Olympics are early next year, so I'm training for all that."

On her training for 2015/16? : "Each session lasts about 90 minutes, six days a week. I get one day off, that's my favourite day. I get a nice rest. But I love it.

"It can be quite hard and sometimes I don't want to get up and go training but it's so worth it, I love what I do and I'm so grateful and privileged to be able to do it."

"I'm really excited about the year ahead I feel like the best is yet to come from myself. I feel like I'm always improving too, which is great."

How does she motivate herself to keep going? The ‘Independent’ again:

"I don't really think too much about the past and what I've done," is her response. "I try to look forward and improve always. The big challenge for me is defending titles, and just get even better at what I do."

On carrying her nation’s hopes, so often she just shrugs her shoulders: "Nothing is as big as the pressure you put on yourself, in my opinion. The support of everyone has been fantastic, it's so great to have the country behind me. It spurs me on when I'm going through low points, as everyone does."

What sort of low points? "People don't really see the work that goes in to getting to a gold medal position. The months and months of hard work... you don't wake up every day with a smile on your face - its hard work. It's those kind of times you have to have perseverance."

Luckily for Katie, she has the support of her family. "It's great working with my dad all the time."

The whole family is very close. It's so great to have that support around me."

When asked what she's most proud of, she says them. "There's nothing like having a good family around you. All these things will fade away - I'm going to retire at some point, I won't be boxing forever. The gold medals and the glory will fade away but family will always be there. They're my main priority."

Life after boxing? : "I think I'd love to stay involved in the sport when I retire, as a coach or an ambassador, some sort of influence on the young girls coming up. When I was younger I really admired Sonia O'Sullivan and Roy Keane, and still do.

"I have great admiration for Brian O'Driscoll too, any Irish athlete on a world stage. I've always had such a heart for sport, knew from such a young age, and had the Olympic dream from a child."

As the ‘Independent’ concludes, Bray Boxing Club has been extensively renovated and is now covered in the logo of Adidas, her sponsor, with state-of-the-art equipment over two floors.

"This was all renovated after London and it's great to have it, but as I've said before, it's not the gym that makes the athlete, it's the ability. But of course it's really nice to have great facilities. I feel very lucky to be in a position I am with a few sponsors under my belt, I have a great team around me and they've done a great job with me."

As we have previously reported here on WBAN, Ireland’s other female boxers set for Baku are Belfast’s Michaela Walsh and Cavan’s Ceire Smith. There are five women’s weights in Baku.

Ms Taylor joins British taekwondo athlete Jade Jones, French rhythmic gymnast Kseniya Moustafaeva, Denmark’s canoe sprinter René Holten Poulsen and Serbia’s Basketball 3x3 team of Du¹an Domoviæ Bulut, Marko Savic, Marko Zdero and Dejan Majstorovic as international Baku 2015 Athlete Ambassadors, with more to be announced in the near future.

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