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Kind-hearted Conor's sights on Olympics in mum's memory

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Proud Conor (centre) with brother Colin and late mum Ann

Proud Conor (centre) with brother Colin and late mum Ann

Proud Conor (centre) with brother Colin and late mum Ann

A DUBLIN man who captured the hearts of the nation when he gave up his Olympic dream to care for his brother and late mother has set his sights on Tokyo 2020 in her memory.

Taekwondo star Conor Grassick (25) tells of his emotional return to international competition after the death of his mother, Ann, in the new series of Liveline: Call Back.

Ann and her family entered the spotlight when she rang Joe Duffy in May last year, a month after being diagnosed with leukaemia, as she was the main carer for youngest son Colin, who has profound special needs.

With very few hours of care from the State, Ann feared Conor would not be able to manage Colin, who has the genetic disorder Prader-Willi syndrome and autism, which can lead to outbursts of aggression.

QUEST

In the RTE documentary, Conor said he knew he had to give up his Olympic quest to care for his family when his mother fell ill.

He said: "Ever since I was a kid, my dream was to get to the Olympics. But I said the Olympics happen every four years but you only had one mam. I packed in taekwondo and gave up work. Everyone came second, bar my mam and my brother."

Conor spent the next year caring for his brother and visiting his mother in hospital every day.

He told Liveline last year of the devastating impact of his brother's condition.

"I've been up at six in the morning, wiping blood from the mirrors and carpets because Colin's anxiety levels hit a max," he said. "You go home at nine o'clock from sitting beside your mam in bed all day and Colin could kick off."

He said they discovered Ann had developed secondary breast cancer last Christmas.

In the wake of the Liveline call, Colin was offered four days' care a week, so in April he was able to return to international competition.

Ann even managed to see one of his matches before she died in May.

On hearing the news, Conor said: "I just fell on the ground in tears."

But he has set out for Tokyo in honour of his mum.

"I'm back training, hopefully to qualify. I will be thinking mam is with me every step of the way."

Liveline: Call Back is on RTE One tonight at 7pm.


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