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Woolley finishes Olympic preparation with gold in Mexico
IN WHAT will probably be his last time in the competitive taekwondo octagon before the Olympics this summer, Jack Woolley of Tallaght has done an excellent job of completing the open international tournaments of this Olympic cycle.
The 22-year-old ended a few busy weeks of international travel and warm weather training by finishing on the top podium at the prestigious Mexico Open Taekwondo tournament.
Jack Woolley emerged victorious in Mexico
Woolley was joined by his coach Robert Taaffe and training partner Leroy Nsilu Dilandu as the trio accepted the challenge of traveling to the Pan-American region.
As number one in its -58 kg class, the two-time Echo Sports Star of the Year was adopted by the opening round of the competition.
In the round of 16 he met Geraldo Rodríguez from the Dominican Republic, whose clash began slowly before Woolley quickly turned up the gears and finished the match after two rounds with a result of 36-9.
A quarter-final duel with the Venezuelan Yohandri Granado was now announced and had promised to be an exhausting encounter with the big, strong South American, but Woolley emerged as the winner 11: 9.
In the medal rounds, the Taekwondo star from South Dublin was next set up against the current world bronze medalist Paulo Melo from Brazil.
In full swing Jack finished the match in a dominant way, won 29-12 and then prepared the final encounter with the home favorite, the current world champion and Pan-American champion Brandon Plaza of Mexico, for the main prize.
Known for his aggressive style beyond control, the Mexican played his part in a grueling competition in which Woolley dug deep to score a 25:18 win for Ireland.
In addition to his gold medal win, Woolley also secured 10 more world and Olympic ranking points and then achieved his maximum Olympic points quota of 40 points in 2020/21 – an achievement that few worldwide have achieved due to travel restrictions.
Following the success of his protégé, South Dublin Taekwondo Head Coach, Taaffe said: “Jack was in great shape at this tournament.
“Pan-America is a very difficult place in Jack’s weight class. It’s a different challenge and requires a lot of focus.
“Jack overcame many challenges at this event. He was beaten by two of these guys in 2019 and it was a great yardstick to check progress.
“There are some here that Jack could possibly meet in Tokyo. He looks strong and is back in good shape after having taken off a few punches recently.
“We spent a week on Fuertuventura with Jack’s Taekwondo support team the week before to get used to the heat and with two weeks of solid training before the Mexico Open, along with winning the gold medal, it was a great opportunity To close tournaments to one before leaving for Tokyo next month. “