“I definitely feel I’m in a better position now”

By Stephen Leonard

JACK Woolley is gearing up for the biggest year of his life as he prepares for his first ever appearance on the Olympic Games stage in Tokyo in July.

The South Dublin Taekwondo star from Tallaght is the first ever Irish competitor in his sport to qualify for the Summer Games and, while the event was pushed back a year because of the global Coronavirus crises, Woolley is confident he will have benefitted from the delay.

Jack Woolley 1 1

Tallaght’s Jack Woolley believes the extra year of preparation has left him better placed to meet the challenge he will face at the Tokyo Olympic Games

“I definitely feel I’m in a better position now than what I would have been last year” he told The Echo.

“I’m a full seven months out from the Games and I can use that to get more tactical in my approach to the Olympics.

“I used last year to get better and stronger and this year I can continue that, but I can also see who else will have qualified and who I could possibly get, so I can just be that bit more tactical” he added.

Woolley completed a hugely challenging year on a high note after securing bronze in the European Taekwondo Championships Olympic Weight Categories in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Seeded Number Two in the -58kg division, Woolley was handed a preliminary bye before beating Bulgarian Daniel Ladzhev 30-5 in the round of 16.

The quarter finals against Serbian Dmitrij Nagajev finished 22-9 in favour of the Tallaght native, after which he lost out 19-13 to eventual gold medallist French fighter Cyrian Ravet, with Woolley’s bronze marking the Dubliner’s fourth European medal.

“We had the European Championships for the Olympic Weight divisions in December and I continued to train for a bit after them so that I could have a little break then” explained Woolley.

“But I’m back at it now, doing two or three sessions a day because we’ll have the European Championships in April. That’ll be the big one.

“There’ll be the qualifiers for Tokyo in May, but obviously I won’t have to go to them” he pointed out.

With three podium finishes in his last three events, including gold in USA and Bulgaria, Woolley is on a sound footing for 2021.

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