RIO DE JANEIRO: Olympic women’s lightweight boxing champion Katie Taylor lost her quarter-final 2-1 to Finland’s Mira Potkonen on Monday, leaving Ireland with one medal hope remaining in the competition.
The fight was five times world champion Taylor’s first in Rio after a bye through the first round.
Potkonen was declared the winner and she is now assured at least a bronze medal after reaching the semi-finals.
“It was a very close fight,” said a subdued Taylor, trying to stay composed after the split decision against her but with tears in her eyes and long pauses as she spoke.
“It’s very hard to talk about. When you are in the middle of the fight it probably looks very different from the outside,” added the 30-year-old.
“It was a close fight and congratulations to her. But I should really be beating those girls.”
Taylor was ahead 29-28 on the judges scorecards after the opening round but dropped two points behind after the second as Potkanen, who clutched an ice bag to her swollen eye after leaving the ring, landed some telling blows.
The judges were split after the third, two scoring the round 10-9 to Taylor and the third giving it to the 35-year-old Finn to reduce the advantage to a single point.
The third round ended with the scores tied, one judge’s tally pointing to Taylor 39-37 and another 39-37 to Potkanen with a third scoring it 38-38 and having to make the final decision.
“It’s just very, very disappointing,” said Taylor. “I was well prepared coming into the fight.
“I left no stone unturned in preparation for this competition. I really believed I’d come home with the gold medal but it wasn’t to be.”
Taylor had struggled to qualify for Rio, beaten in a European qualifier, and never got into gear against an opponent who offered no real surprises.
“It’s been a very, very tough year for sure. A very challenging year,” she said. “Suffered so many losses. I’m sick of losing at this stage this year. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong really.
“I really felt I was prepared for every opponent here this week and it’s just the way it goes.”
At the London 2012 Games, Taylor was one of the faces of women’s boxing as the sport made its Olympic debut, and she overshadowed the Irish men’s team with gold with the entire country celebrating her achievement.