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Caradh O’Donovan, A Kickboxers Blog

Time is definitely a healer! It’s now a week since my dream of winning another European Title came to a brutal end and for the first time that I can remember I am actually completely over it within a week….progress I guess? Even though I got beaten by the winner of the division my performance was so below par that I was literally stunned with how the competition went for me. It wouldn’t have mattered if I had gotten a different draw and managed to even bag myself a spot in the semi-final or final; any colour other than gold for me last week was not what I had spent my year training for nor had I any interest in bringing home anything but gold with me. At the same time my team mates all did very well and as much as there’s always a twinge of jealousy that I wasn’t in the final it was great to watch the standard of my sport climb even higher and see some new faces across Europe making the podiums for the first time.

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Looking back on 2016 I realised I’ve had a pretty tough year with the last couple of months being a real measure of how much guts I have (excuse the pun!). A dodgy few weeks however definitely wasn’t the reason for my loss but at the same time I guess I’m happy with myself for working through it all and making it to the WAKO Euros in good shape. Overall 2016 has’t been all bad. The start of the year was great with me winning another Senior National Title at 55kg and of course winning the -55kg Pointfighting division at the Irish Open. I also bagged 3 bronzes medals at the Hungarian World Cup and won the Grand Champion at the Irish Martial Arts Association Open…not too shabby I suppose. I’ve also been so lucky to have so much support and help throughout the past few months in particular from my coach Dave Heffernan who has trained me year round on weekends, 6.30am weekday starts or whenever needed. Also a big thanks to Martin Bannon who has coached me all year and given me a lot of his time. Thanks also to Ilija in SAP Fighting Style for backing me this year and all my Tallaght Martial Arts club mates who have made training a lot of fun in the lead up to these Championships! And of course a big shout out to all my family who have helped me get through the bad losses and celebrated the wins with me – you’re all fab!

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So that’s it for me for 2016 in terms of competition! This year was the first in over 5 years that I’m coming home from a World or European Championships without a medal so I guess I’ve set my own standards pretty high. Sometimes the best thing that can happen is to come home empty handed as it has forced me to look at myself and what changes I can make within my control rather than saying it was bad luck or a bad referee etc. This time what I’m lacking has hit me like a ton of bricks but rather than me talk about that here I’m off to the gym to just shut up and do it!!

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