Jack Woolley’s Olympics will be over only hours after the Opening Ceremony, and the Irish taekwondo athlete thinks the bang-bang nature of the competition gives him an advantage.
“I’m so used to this,” he told an Irish website. “Even some of the competitions in Europe we’d sometimes fly in on the day of weigh-in, fight and then come home the day after. ... It’s get in, do the business and leave.”
Woolley, who came out in 2016, is Ireland’s first Olympic taekwondo athlete and he has a legitimate medal chance. He is one of 16 athletes in the under-58kg class of taekwondo and the competitions begins and ends Saturday in Tokyo (if he makes the medal round, it would be held around 8 a.m. Saturday EDT).
The 22-year-old says he “kicks people in the head for a living,” something he does quite well. At 5-11, he can weigh no more than 127 pounds, so he is lean and lithe while admitting it’s tough to cut weight to be under the limit.
Taekwondo is dominated by South Korea and Jun Jang is the gold medal favorite. But Woolley is confident as he enters the competition, fresh off a gold medal performance at the Mexico Open Taekwondo Tournament.
“I’m in the best shape I’ve ever being in,” he said. “I think I’m better than before I was injured. I’m feeling very positive and I’m going into this now feeling confident because I think only two of the 16 competitors in my division are coming off gold medal performances and I’m luckily one of them. So I’m in a good position now.”
You can follow Woolley on Instagram.
Getty Images took some great portraits of Woolley: