BY CATHERINE KETCH
STRONG family connections is just one feature of one of the strongest Tae Kwon Do clubs, Ballyvourney, in the region which celebrated ten medal wins at the recent Munster Championships in Tralee.
The champions displayed their medals at a recent Friday night training session at Scoil Abán Naofa in Ballyvourney.
Caoimhe O’Leary took silver for sparring, Kayla Healy won two bronze for sparring and patterns, Ava O’Connell took bronze in patterns and silver in sparring, Sarah Wynroe took gold in sparring, John Wynroe took gold in sparring, bronze in patterns and Olan Kinsella took bronze in patterns and silver in sparring.
The club, which started out very small, has been building for the past 18 years and now has some very high-level members.
Seniors Heloise (O’Sullivan) and Rachel (Harmon) are first cousins and both medal winners in the Kickboxing World Championships. Instructor Olan Kinsella runs his own school and he’s competed in Korea. Diarmuid McSweeney is a member of the national team.
‘The club is really one of the strongest clubs,’ says Master Dalton, who is an eight degree black belt with 34 years of training, a lifetime of dedication to the sport.
The U10s automatically get a medal to build their confidence but the others are hard won.
‘Sometimes it can take a few years, sometimes children are just naturally confident anyway but our goal is to elevate and not to put people down so that’s the philosophy,’ Don says.
Brother and sister Sarah and John Wynroe, Don describes as exceptional.
‘John and Sarah are training five, six maybe, even seven years. They would be even going on Sundays to squad training with the national team training so they would be very high level,’ he explained. Their seven-year-old sister Laura already has a yellow belt.
‘At the squad training we do very difficult training. The class would be two and a half to three hours. As it comes closer to a big event it could be four hours training,’ Don explains.
The best competitors from around the country get together on a Sunday to train. Olan Kinsella also attends. Recently two more from the club Aideen and Fionn Ó Loinsigh, brother and sister, attended for the first time.
The club trains on Friday evenings from 6.45pm for juniors and 7.45pm for seniors.