Jack Woolley bound for his second Olympics

Twenty-five year old secures his qualification for Paris via European Taekwondo qualification tournament in Bulgaria

Without much fuss or fanfare, Jack Woolley has qualified for his second Olympic Games after securing one of the precious few taekwondo spots for Paris in July.

Three years on from the delayed Tokyo Games, where he became Ireland’s first participant in any Olympic taekwondo event, Woolley has again sealed his place in the 58kg division.

It increases to 12 the number of sports that Ireland has now qualified in for Paris with 87 athletes sealing their places in either individual or team events with the promise of plenty more still to come.

The 25-year-old Woolley, who narrowly missed out on Rio 2016 while still in school, went to this weekend’s European Taekwondo Olympic Qualification tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria needing to win his semi-final round to ensure that Paris berth.


Facing off against Ernest Merdanaj from Albania, Woolley emerged a 2-1 winner, clearly thrilled with that outcome, along with his coach Robert Taaffe.

There are just 16 spots available in each of the four weight categories, with only the two semi-final winners in each division qualifying for Paris from the event in Sofia – hence, no final round took place over the weekend.

For Woolley, who last summer won the silver medal at the European Games in Poland, the focus now turns to Paris. He went to Tokyo ranked sixth in his division, only to lose his opening round of 16 in the dying seconds to Argentina’s Lucas Guzman.

The 11 sports Ireland had already secured places for, either individual or team, are athletics, boxing, equestrian, swimming, sailing, rowing, canoe slalom, gymnastics, cycling, rugby sevens (men and women) and hockey (men).

Ireland also has two athletes sitting in qualification positions in badminton (Nhat Nguyen and Rachael Darragh), with four golfers also in line for qualification, two men and two women.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics