Woolley spearheads South Dublin challenge in Sarajevo
Tallaght's Jack Woolley on his way to gold in Sarajevo

Woolley spearheads South Dublin challenge in Sarajevo

TALLAGHT’S Jack Woolley was back at the podium summit when he travelled to Sarajevo to contest the latest instalment of World Ranking Taekwondo events – the Bosnia & Herzegovina Open.

Just four days after his silver medal success in Paris, the South Dublin Taekwondo star lined out in his -58kg Flyweight division, igniting his march to gold with a 43-0 demolition of home athlete Eman Saric.

A quarter final against Russia’s Sergei Maltcev proved a much more hotly-contested bout with scores back and forth eventually leading to Woolley pulling away for a 36-25 victory.

Now in the medals with eyes solely set on gold, the Dubliner produced a tentative first-round display against Hungary’s Sharif Gergely Salim, but eventually surged ahead for 24-5 win and a place in the final against Jordan’s Mahmoud Altaryreh, who had earlier defeated the current world silver medallist.

The match went all the way to the final buzzer with 23-year-old Woolley holding off a late barrage from the new up-and-coming athlete to secure gold by the narrowest of margins 6-5.

Pleased with the result, Woolley’s coach Taaffe said, “We’ve had a run of five recent tournaments, with three gold and one silver in some very tough divisions. I think we would have taken that before we set out.

“Next week we go to Austria and then it’s time to rest” he added.

In parallel with the senior world ranking event, was the Youth Bosnia & Herzegovina Open European-ranking tournament in which South Dublin’s Emma Cahill (15) and Ryan Doyle (16) also finished among the medals.

South Dublin Taekwondo’s Emma Cahill and Ryan Doyle both won silver at the Youth Bosnia & Herzegovina Open

Fighting in -52kg Junior class, Cahill finished on the second tier of the podium after a clinical defeat of Israel’s’ Noa Cohen by the ‘point gap’ in the quarter finals.

A drawn semi-final led to an additional ‘golden round’ where the first to score two or more points would win.

The cagey affair led to a victory as Cahill’s whipping head kick landed on Finland’s Sonja Lehto’s electronic head guard.

Sara Spacojevic of Croatia was to be one step too far for the Dublin fighter as she emerged with silver.

In what was probably his last junior outing before turning senior next year, Ryan Doyle lined out in his -68kg division.

Seeded Number Two, he opened up his campaign with a quarter final victory over Czech competitor Tomas Sittek.

A pulsating match in the semi final saw Doyle secure victory against Zarko Krajisnik, but not before taking a hit in the final ten seconds of the last round that forced the South Dublin fighter to hold on in for the closing ten seconds.

On medical advice, Doyle was withdrawn from the final bout leading to an uncontested match and silver medal.

“Emma and Ryan have really set the bar high for our up-and-coming juniors and cadets” noted Coach Taaffe.

“Just as Jack is a role model to Emma and Ryan, they are now proving the same for our next generation, and to see their dedication and results recently is great testament to their commitment.

“Ryan came to us late from another martial art. Changeovers to Olympic Taekwondo are hard without commitment and strong will-power, and very few have great success.

“He has wrapped up his Olympic Taekwondo junior career with his fourth ranking event medal, he has represented the Irish team three times so far and has paved a pathway for others in other martial arts to successfully compete in Olympic Taekwondo” highlighted Taaffe.