High-flying young Irish martial artists target medal glory at 2020 Olympics
Published 21/09/2015 | 02:30
Ireland is to target martial arts for a potential medal haul at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The revelation came as it was confirmed Ireland will now host the 2017 World Karate Championships.
Ireland's decision to host the event in Cork came after Irish athletes enjoyed a record medals haul at the 2015 World Karate Championships in Turkey.
Irish athletes brought home 77 medals from the Istanbul games, including medals for teens tipped as potential stars for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Over 50 medals alone were delivered by members of the Passage West club in Cork.
Per capita of population, Ireland was the most successful country at the Istanbul championships.
Tokyo could now be the first Olympic Games where karate is an official medal sport.
Shane Hurley (15) from Fermoy, Co Cork, won an incredible six medals - one gold, two silver and three bronze - with the Fermoy and Passage West clubs enjoying record-breaking participation in Istanbul.
Just as impressively, Shane's younger brother Brian (12) won gold and bronze medals.
Shane, a Junior Cert student at St Colman's College, is considered one of the outstanding young karate talents in the sport.
The emergence of so many talented young Irish karate champions is attributed to the training of Brian Toomey, Ireland's chief instructor, who is himself ranked as a 7th Dan.
Ireland won the 77 medals at the Istanbul games despite competing against 23 other countries.
In two years, the Cork-hosted event will feature more than 30 countries and over 300 competitors.
Ireland has already confirmed that the Cork event, from July 6-9, 2017, at the UCC Mardyke Arena, will feature both the World Karate and World Wheelchair Karate championships.
The 2017 event was launched in Cork with the attendance of the world's leading karate master, Hanshi Sadashige Kato.
The Japanese master trainer is a 9th Dan.
The 2016 World Championships are being staged in India.
Martial arts masters have commented on the soaring standard of competition amongst Irish athletes.
The last three world championships have witnessed a remarkable emergence of young Irish talent with multiple gold medal-winning performances at each event.
The development came as there is an escalating campaign for greater recognition by the International Olympic Committee of martial arts in the summer games.
Martial arts advocates have pointed out that their sports enjoy a greater global participant base than many sports which already enjoy full competition status at the summer games.