2015 World Taekwondo Championships – Chelyabinsk Russia

The Irish Taekwondo Union were represented at the World Taekwondo Federation [WTF] World Championships by 5 players who competed from 12-18th May at the Tractor Arena, Chelyabinsk, Russia. Local athlete & April Sportsperson of the Month, Jack Woolley was in action on 22nd May in his -54kg division. The youngster, still a junior in age at just 16 was selected to attend this senior event due to a promising start to his senior career, where he has picked up major ranking points this year at 3 major events, the US Open, Dutch Open & Spanish Open.

Jack Woolley –World Championship quarter Finalist 2015

The draw for the event saw Jack seeded in the event giving him a 1st round match against non seeded Bulgarian Kayolan Binev which proved to be a good opening match where Jack remained in control throughout winning the match 12-4.The second round appeared to be a much tougher test where Jack drew Aleksander Kuvarsin from Turkmenistan who had defeated the world no 6 from USA in his preliminary match. ‘With no video footage online to study this was a case of going into the match quite blind’, noted Coach Taaffe. The closely fought 3 round thriller ended 8-6 in favour of the South Dublin Taekwondo player. After a short break, Jack proceed to compete with the Azerbaijani Mikayil Alyiev in what was to prove to be his most taxing challenge to date. The rigorous energy sapping match took almost 12 minutes with a long break for a video replay in the final round, Coach Taaffe noted, ‘To be honest,. the video replay was not only to seek the possible head points, both players were running on empty due to the physicality of the match, and i felt Jack could use the breathing space to guarantee he could hold onto his lead.’.

The match ended 21-13 in favour of Team Ireland, which put Jack into a n unprecedented 1/4 final match with Brazil’s Venitilon Teixeira. The player & coach pairing of Woolley & Taaffe were familiar with the Brazilian as Jack had shared the podium with the player earlier in the year in Orlando, where the Brazilian won the US Open. This match was the end of the road for Jack, who’s kicking, match management & style of taekwondo inspired a nation back home who were watching with so much support. The match finished 21-7 to Brazil who ran away with the lead early in the match and led to Ireland’s struggle to claw the points back. There was agony & ecstasy within a few hours in Russia, the emotions in the ring and outside were incredible. This collection of performances led to Jack being placed 5th at the world Championships in a field of 67 players.

After the event Jack noted many thanks to all who assisted him, ‘Thanks to the Irish Taekwondo Union and my Club South Dublin Taekwondo for all the support. I am looking forward to getting back to training & assisting others back home in return for all this help.’

Jack had traveled to Russia alongside a large Irish delegation of 5 players & 4 officials. The team selected was Ireland’s largest at this level for some time, which speaks volumes on the development of WTF Taekwondo in Ireland currently. Other players who attended include Conor Grassick [-68kg], Shane Lynch [+87kg], Claire Toland [-57kg] and Chloe Aboud [-67kg], who was formerly of the ITF Style of Taekwondo, and crossed over to seek possible Olympic Championships representation. Each of the 5 team members trained and competed together proudly as integral parts of the overall performance, and whilst the other 4 unfortunately did not win their opening match, all had given very respectable performances against some of the worlds best opposition.

The event was attended by over 1000 athletes from the 205 member nations of the WTF. Current World and Olympic Champions graced the mats which were inspiring to the travelling Irish Team. The team officials included President Martin Fleming, Coaches Robert Taaffe & Brian McKenna & Head of Team Laura McKenna. The delegation of 9 made some strong in-roads into Ireland’s standing at this level and it is hoped many more Irish Taekwondo players or can reap the rewards from a grueling trip to Russia.

There were some ancillary moments to note from the Worlds Championships. President Fleming, who is also a European Taekwondo Union Council Memebr attended the 2015 WTF General Assembly where many decisions on the future of the WTF are typically made. There was also an astonishing opening ceremony to the event where a major milestone in World Taekwondo was made where the WTF had invited the ITF Demonstration team to come along to perform. Both teams excited the crowd with their spectacular performances and showed a great sign of solidarity between the 2 groups most of whom came from North Korea [ITF] and South Korea [WTF], which is further to developments last year where The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) and International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) have signed a historic memorandum which will open up dialogue and increase collaboration between the two organizations for the benefit of the entire global sport.

WTF President Chungwon Choue and ITF President Ung Chang signed the memorandum on Aug. 21, 2014 in a ceremony in Nanjing, China during the Youth Olympic Games.

As part of the agreement, athletes currently registered to the WTF and ITF will be free to compete in one and the other’s competitions under the rules of each organization, creating new exciting opportunities and ensuring that the world’s very best taekwondo athletes can compete in the world’s very best taekwondo tournaments.

Baku European Games 2015 Update

Chloe Aboud will go straight back into training when she returns from her World Championship debut. Chloe continues her preparation as Ireland’s only Taekwondo practitioner in the inaugural European games next month.

Baku Taek

Chloe Aboud

Coach Robert Taaffe Jack Woolley and ITU President Martin Fleming

Coach Robert Taaffe
Jack Woolley and ITU President Martin Fleming