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Ireland’s Most-Admired Sports Stars are Two Olympic Women’s Boxing Champions

Kellie Harrington was crowned champion in the women’s lightweight category in Tokyo 2020 (Photo: Adam Davy/ PA)

Olympic champions in women’s boxing, Kellie Harrington and Katie Taylor, have been named as the most admired sports stars in Ireland, according to a public vote.

The Teneo Sports and Sponsorship Index (TSSI) 2021 had the two Olympic gold medallists tied at the top with 16% each.

Joint third were jockey Rachael Blackmore and Ireland rugby captain Jonathan Sexton, both on 9%. They were followed by rower Paul O’Donovan and Paralympic swimming champion Ellen Keane on 4%.

Harrington joined an exclusive club of 9 athletes who have won an Olympic gold medal for Ireland, when she defeated Brazilian Beatriz Ferreira in the under-60 kg category at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Taylor successfully defended her status as the undisputed World lightweight champion for a fifth time in December 2021 when she fought Firuza Sharipova from Kazakhstan at the M&S Bank Area in Liverpool.

Taylor now holds a record of 20-0 as a professional, having won the same weight category of Harrington at London 2012.

Both were nominated for the RTÉ Sportsperson of the Year award, which was won by Blackmore.

Harrington’s gold medal was voted the top Irish Sporting Achievement with 20% of the vote from 1,000 people surveyed.

Football and Gaelic football were voted Ireland’s favourite sport with 18% each respectively, followed by rugby and tennis.

Team of the Year was given to the country’s Olympic team with 24% of the vote, marginally in front of the men’s rugby union squad, followed by the Paralympic team.

The TSSI is a survey of 1,000 people nationally, with quotas imposed across gender, region, age and social class. It examines the Irish general public’s attitudes towards sport and their sporting heroes.

The results are therefore the view of the general Irish public and not a survey of sports fans.  It is the twelfth year of the TSSI and the research was carried out between November 25 and December 9, 2021.

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