Woolley keeps Olympic qualification in sight after taking European silver

JACK Woolley remains within touching distance of Olympic qualification after accumulating a further 24 ranking points en route to silver at the 2019 European Championships in Bari.

The three-day senior event, which was held in the impressive ‘Palaflorio’ Stadium, saw the South Dublin Taekwondo star seeded fourth in the -58kg division and handed a bye through the preliminary round.

Jack Woolley 071119

Tallaght’s Jack Woolley with South Dublin Taekwondo Coach Robert Taaffe after winning silver in the European Championships.

He made a convincing start to his campaign beating Adil Beldaki from the Netherlands 29-0 before the referee stopped the match at the end of the penultimate round.

In the quarter final round Jack drew the 2016 European Champion Mourad Laachraoui who had beaten him earlier this year in the Japanese Grand Prix.

Yet a change of approach by Woolley allowed him to, this time, control the contest and close out a 20-11 victory, scoring a mix of basic and elaborate kicks.

In the semi-final Woolley came up against the towering frame of Spaniard Jesus Tortosa Cabrera who finished fifth in the Rio Olympics and was top seed here.

An early spooning kick to the body, followed by an immediate head kick helped the Tallaght lad to a seven-point advantage early on, and that gap was enlarged to 12 by the close of the first round.

Maintaining that same momentum, Woolley’s precision scoring and excellent blocking enabled him to beat the favourite by 23-11, setting him up for a clash with home fighter Vito Dell’Aquila.

The Italian who was seeded Number Three drew huge support that helped see him restore parity after falling 4-0 behind.

In the second round the Italian’s lead took a stretch and the match looked like it may have been slipping away from the Tallaght native, until he landed a ferocious spinning head kick, adding five points to his tally.

The scores were back and forth throughout, with Woolley retaking the lead in Round Three only to be caught by a head kick in the dying seconds which cost him gold.

Still he can be well satisfied with his return from this Grade Four event which leaves him on a sound footing ahead of the French Open in a fortnight followed by the Grand Prix Final in Moscow in December.

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