Woolley goes top of the Russian Open podium

By Stephen Leonard

JACK Woolley finally got his hands on gold at a WTF (World Taekwondo Federation) ranking tournament when he contested the Russian Open in the Dinamo Krylaskoye Arena in Moscow.

After having won bronze in the Polish Open and then silver in the Israeli equivalent, the South Dublin Taekwondo Club jewel was determined to top the podium in Russia.

Previous results this year meant he had a Number One seeding for this event- something that encouraged both him and SDTKD Coach Niamh Buffini.

Jack Woolley Russia 2 resized

Practically, it meant he was handed a bye in the preliminary round, giving him the opportunity to watch his possible opponents as they fought early in the morning.

He was paired against a US Open Medallist, Vladislav Kairo of the host nation in the second round match in which he enjoyed a blistering start, defeating his opponent by a staggering 55 points to 7.

With three points for head and spinning body kicks, and four for spinning head kicks Woolley registered points effectively on the electric scoring body and head protectors with a barrage of varying high point techniques, forcing the referee to stop the event after the close of the second round.

Jack Woolley Russia resized

Next up was another Russian Anton An, and once again only two of the scheduled three rounds were required as the Tallaght lad won 32-0.

In the semi-final he came up against one of the seeded Kazak players Sanzhar Sultan in the division.

This time Woolley found himself two points down by the close of the first round, but a stern talking to by Coach Buffini led to a bout of his relentless kicking that saw the South Dublin Taekwondo star regain the lead.

He ended the match by way of a TKO when a strong jabbing kick forced Sultan to retire with a broken elbow.

Standing in his way of gold now was Russian National Team opponent Aleksei Vladimirov who had clinically progressed through the opposite side of the draw to the final.

And Woolley scaled the top of the podium round when he emerged on the right side of a 19-12 result, earning his first senior gold and a valuable 10 Olympic ranking points to add to his collection.

It got even better for the Dubliner as his high octane, high scoring performances earned him the ‘Most Aggressive Male Fighter’ Award that brought with it a prize of $3000.

Delighted with the performance of his young protegee, SDTKD Coach Robert Taaffe noted, ‘We are doing all we can to give young Jack the best chance possible for upcoming major games, and the support from his club mates, our venue Tallaght Leisure Centre and the Irish Taekwondo Union has been invaluable.

“To compete at this level in WTF Taekwondo is extremely difficult, and the hard work is now reaping the rewards deserved’.

Delighted with his latest feat, Woolley said afterwards “it's is a massive honour to even compete at this level, but to take a gold medal and $3000 for the most aggressive player is unbelievable.

“I was speechless for a good half hour. I was very emotional and it was honestly an incredible experience.

“I have good a great team and the best coaches anyone could ask for.
“But now that this competition is done I have to train harder and go for gold once again” added Woolley who will compete in the Serbia Open later this month.

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