Smullen helps Ireland to World Team gold

Smullen helps Ireland to World Team gold

STEPHEN Smullen and Reece Byrne of Newlands Taekwon-Do Club were part of the Irish Taekwon-Do squad that returned home to a hero’s welcome at Dublin Airport on Monday afternoon after a very successful World Championship campaign in Jesolo, Italy that saw Ireland win five gold, six silver and five bronze to finish fourth overall.

World Champions Irish Senior Team L-R Stephen Smullen Richie Forde Darren Smith Adam Shelley Hong Looi  Dylan Fitzgibbon resized

The campaign was a huge success for Smullen (Pictured on the far left) as he was part of the Irish Senior Male Sparring team that were crowned World Champions.

The six-man team ignited their run to the title with a victory over Canada, before undoing Sweden in Round Two.

This set them up for a crunch quarter-final against home nation Italy in which the Irish team carved out an early lead from which their hosts could not recover.

The semi-final against Argentina was a repeat of the 2009 Worlds, when the Irish men had to settle for Bronze, but this time they exacted revenge and powered through to a place in the World Championship decider against Ukraine.

Again the Irish built an early lead after the first few fights, only to see the Ukrainians draw level, but they held their nerve to take the final match, and, with it, the global crown.

“Heading to Italy we knew we had a strong, experienced team” said Smullen. We had been training hard for more than six months travelling around the country”

“But we knew we had to get our tactics spot-on on the day and match the right team member against the correct opponent”

“There were tough matches along the way but we knew we had the strength-in-depth within our team to see us through”

“I am absolutely delighted with the performance of the team.

“It was great to be there alongside team mates and friends who I have trained alongside for many years and to become World Champions”

Reece Byrne, aged 17, was making his World Championship debut and lost out to an experienced Polish competitor after an exciting contest.

“It was a great experience for Reece to compete against the World’s best” said Smullen.

“This was his first time competing at this level and he more than held his own.

“We are confident we will see Reece go on to represent Ireland many more times. Hopefully that will continue at the European Championships in Scotland in October”

The Irish Team had another reason to celebrate after the competition as it was announced that the next World Championships will take place in Ireland.

At the congress of members of the International Taekwon-Do Federation which was held in Italy, delegates from around the world approved a strong bid from the Irish Taekwon-Do Association to host the event.

The championship will take in the Citywest Complex in October 2017.

Delighted with this great news, Newlands TWD instructor Carl Smullen said “This will be a major event for Taekwon-Do in Ireland.

“We will see the World’s best coming here to take part in a championships in a World class venue and it will do a lot to continue the development and popularity of the sport” he insisted.

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