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Dublin: 11 °C Saturday 5 September, 2015

Meet Ireland’s 15-year-old Tae Kwon Do World Champion

Cork’s Donna O’Mahony took gold at the World Tae Kwon Do Championships last weekend.

Donna O'Mahony (middle) and her two World Championship medals.
Donna O'Mahony (middle) and her two World Championship medals.
Image: Jason O'Mahony

WHILE MOST 15-YEAR-OLDS are concerned with One Direction, Cork’s Donna O’Mahony had one goal, and that was to train hard for the World Tae Kwon Do Championships.

Her hard work paid off in Coventry last weekend when the Junior Cert student from Midleton won a gold and silver despite picking up the sport just two years ago.

“A lot of my friends joined [when I was 13] so I followed them,” O’Mahony told during the week.

“I could go on about [why Tae Kwon Do is great] for ages, but mainly, in my opinion, it is fun, it improves fitness and it helps with self-defense.

“It also improves team-work and self-discipline, some things you don’t find in other sports.”

And how did it feel to win a gold medal?

“It never really hit me until I turned to see my trainer, James Dwyer, celebrating like crazy.”

Her father Jason, was equally excited though he couldn’t make the Championships in person.

“When Donna rang me and described herself to me as a World Champion, well, suffice to say it is one of those moments a father will never forget, it was very emotional.

“We had sent Donna there to learn from the experience of a major international event, in no way did we envisage that she would bring home a medal on a world stage, much less a gold & silver.”

Donna O’Mahony with her proud mother and father.
Image: Jason O’Mahony

He’s also keen to point out the pivotal role his daughter’s trainer played in her success.

“She is well trained by James Dwyer, who himself is a 5th degree Black Belt and deserves all the credit for her abilities and success in the sport.”

When asked if he’d any concerns about his daughter’s safety taking part in the sport, Mr. O’Mahony was very clear:

“In fairness to the sport of Tae Kwon Do, sparring is focused on out-pointing your opponent as opposed to beating them senseless. I’d have no worries about her safety at all in that aspect.”

It was an incredible Championship not just for O’Mahony but for her Midleton Tae Kwon Do club too, as a pair of fellow club members, Dominika Matczak and Natalia Hefkaluk, took home bronze medals in team events.

With Rio 2016 just around the corner, who knows what Donna O’Mahony can achieve with three extra years’ practise. One thing’s for sure, she won’t be lacking in support.

“I’m not going to lie,” says her father, “it was expensive to begin with and with the gradings and the events, which keep pilling up, the pressure is on to keep it going.

“Now that we see a very bright future for Donna in this sport, we’d be foolish not to put everything we have behind her both in terms of support & finance.”

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