Thursday 24 January 2019

'She was one in a million'- Irish taekwondo star (24) pays tribute to late mother after 'unexpected' death

Colin (21), Conor (24) and their late mother Ann Grassick (53)
Colin (21), Conor (24) and their late mother Ann Grassick (53)

Rachel Farrell

A young man who gave up sport to care for his family has said the passing of his mother this week was "completely unexpected".

24-year-old Conor Grassick hit headlines last year after he was awarded a special award, for giving up his Olympic taekwondo training to care for his younger brother with special needs when their mother became ill.

Conor's mother Ann was diagnosed with a type of Leukemia, MDS (Myelodysplastic syndromes) in 2017. After over a year of battling the disease, Ann (53) passed away on Monday June 5 2018.

"It was very unexpected. Last Friday we knew it was getting worse, the breast cancer came back again," Conor told

Colin, Ann and Conor Grassick
Colin, Ann and Conor Grassick

"It was very upsetting seeing her on Friday, she was going through a lot of pain. On Sunday evening she was really relaxed and peaceful, and then Monday morning came."

Conor explained that both him and his brother are "devastated" at the loss of their mother, who supported Conor's taekwondo ambitions. 

"The two of us are heartbroken, we're absolutely devastated. I can't put into the words the love we had for our mam, she was such a special person.

"Earlier in the week, Joe Duffy and GAA player Brian Fenton came in to pay their respects, we couldn't believe it. It's very hard, it's a massive thing to lose someone in your family."

Conor's brother Colin (21) has Prader Willi syndrome and requires 24-hour care at their home in Drumcondra. When their mother's cancer got worse, Conor gave up training for the Olympics to become his full time carer.

Three weeks ago, Conor decided to get back into taekwondo with his mother's blessing, winning the Champion's International Open in Dublin. 

"One thing I had in life was that I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if my mam never got to see me fight again in Ireland.

"I won a gold medal and she was there, there were tears coming down both our faces. This was not the 2018 we expected."

Following the loss of their mother, Conor will continue to care for his brother Colin, but says that his mother would want him to continue with his sport too.

"She was a powerful woman, very strong. A massive role model, she was one in a million. We've had help from Pioneer HomeCare since January and that has really helped Colin a lot at home.

"Before she died, I had the chats with her, and she said, 'keep doing what you do, make me proud'."

Conor Grassick with his mother Ann
Conor Grassick with his mother Ann

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