BY KIERAN McCARTHY
LILY de la Cour has ominous news for the pretenders to her national and world senior titles – she wants to become the complete fighter.
After adding the one title she always wanted – winning gold in her category (-50kg) at the recent senior WAKO World Kickboxing Championships in Dublin – the 21-year-old Bantry kickboxer insists that she can, and will, get better.
Her first senior world title triumph means she is the number one kickboxer in the world in her division. De la Cour always wanted to be the very best, and now that she is, she feels there is more to come from her.
‘There are definitely improvements to be made,’ she said.
‘Ian (Kingston, her coach) texted me a few days after the worlds and said that he hoped I was enjoying me break, and that he’ll see me back in a few weeks because we have a few things to work on. He said that in a good way because he feels that there are areas where I can get even better, improve by ten or 15 per cent, and that’s exciting as well.
‘It’s the same as any other sport. It’s changing all the time so we need to keep up with the times. I am not the complete fighter but we’ll get there.’
Dominant as a junior kickboxer before turning senior two years ago, de la Cour was an 11-time All-Ireland junior champion who won black belt junior WAKO World and European championships, as she finished her junior career as the number one ranked fighter in the world.
Already, she has won three senior All-Ireland titles, won the senior WAKO International Open three times, and has won gold and silver in the WAKO World Cup Bestfighter competition, but now she has the big one – the senior world title.
It means the pressure is off the December winner of the Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Star Monthly Awards, who received her latest trophy last week.
‘I always wanted to win a senior world championship at some stage and now I’ve achieved that,’ the bubbly Bantry world champ explained.
‘I always said because I am young and healthy that if it didn’t work out this year at the senior worlds then there was always two years time, and I’ll go again and again until I get there, but I have it now, which is fantastic.
‘I’ll still compete, go out there and try to win a few more, but that pressure that I put on myself to win it is gone now, so I can enjoy it more from now on, without that pressure.’
Two years ago de la Cour lost her first fight at the senior worlds, but last month in Dublin she won all four to climb to the top of the world – but what’s next for a kickboxer who has achieved her main target and is still 21? What’s her next challenge? What will motive this West Cork Kickboxing Club star?
Get that buzz
‘It would have been the same when I was a junior and I did well at that level. I never came out of a competition and thought “okay, that’s me finished here”. I always wanted to win again. When you win, you get that buzz and you want that feeling again,’ de la Cour explained.
‘I always wanted to win a world title at senior level and I’ve achieved that. Now I want to win more of them.
‘There are plenty of juniors coming up now, making that transition to senior that I made two years ago, and they are the ones that I need to watch out for. They come out of nowhere, they’re fit, talented and young, so hopefully there will be someone to give a me a run for my money.’
Central to her ongoing success is the training and guidance of her club and national coach, Ian Kingston, who has played a huge role in her rise to the top of the world. Tactically, he helped her tick every box at the recent world championships.
‘He’s been such an important figure for me in kickboxing and in life,’ she explained.
‘There have been summers there where I have seen Ian way more than I have seen my friends or my family. This year we took a very professional approach to training. Ian, along with John Mackey from Dublin, did really well. At the worlds, Ireland had more finalists than the Russians, which would have been unheard of in the past.
‘We know each other inside out. I know what he wants from me. And I know that if I go to him he will get that from me, if I work hard. We’ve a great relationship that works well.’
2016 will present its own challenges for de la Cour as she defends her national title plus there are the European Championships, as well as a number of other international competitions to keep her calendar full.
As well as that the final year UCC student is on work placement in St Mary’s Secondary School in Macroom currently, teaching PE and English, as life outside kickboxing is keeping de la Cour very busy too, but West Cork’s newest world champion wouldn’t want it any other way, as she plots to become even better in 2016.