CONG kickboxer Seán Ryan got much more than he bargained for whilst competing at the Unified World Martial Arts/Kickboxing Championships in Marina Di Carrara, Tuscany in Italy at the weekend.
Ryan, a member of Galway Black Dragon Kickboxing Gym, was representing the IKF Ireland Kickboxing team and took home silver medals in both kickboxing and K-1.
However, in the midst of it all, the Mayo teenager was also engulfed in a suspected terror attack at the arena.
On Sunday last, after the team was transported from Pisa to Carrara via bus, a man fired off several rounds from a handgun causing a stampede as thousands of people from 100 plus countries ran for their lives.
According to Peter Foley of Galway Black Dragon Kickboxing Gym:
“Within seconds Italian cops swooped into action with weapons drawn on the shooter.
“And within minutes the complex was surrounded by rapid response cops and two police helicopters circling the skies.
“Thankfully, as it transpired, the shooter was carrying out a weapon demonstration, shooting blanks, without giving advanced warning. However, the suspected terror-attacker/weapons trainer was arrested and taken away.
“During the drama, the Irish team were in the thick of the stampede, with many of them helping carry children and babies to safety as well as lifting distressed people over six-foot gates to get out of the area and into safety.
“While police attempted to contain the situation inside, people started to drift back into the complex, but it had caused huge distress to many women and children from all over the planet. But within the hour, the competition was recommenced and the finals got back underway.”
Overall, the Irish team were hugely successful, bringing home 37 medals in total (18 gold, 11 silver, 8 bronze).
18 year-old Galway Black Dragon fighter, James Kelly, knocked out his Itialian opponent in the second round of the Cadet 67kg final, and also stopped an Iranian fighter in the opening round of the Cadet 71kg K-1 division.
The Athenry man was also hailed a hero from a very distressed English lady who in the midst of the chaos was seperated from her young son, who James saw and evacuated to safety.
15-year-old Alex Fitzpatrick, Tuam also won gold in the Junior Kickboxing and K-1 division, taking out countries such as Italy, Czech Republic and Ukraine on the way.
Damien Creavin from Galway City took gold in the mens’ 60kg kickboxing division and Whitney Sheppard defeated fighters from Italy, France and Germany to secure gold in the Senior Ladies K-1 division.
Cian McCormack from Kinvara who won out the gold medals in 2015 and 2016 was on track for a hat-trick this year as he was the top seed at 63.5kg.
But, unfortunately, he injured himself running from the scene in bare feet and was unable to compete in his two finals.
Peter Sheppard from Galway won silver and bronze medals in kickboxing and K-1, Damien Creavin from Galway won gold and bronze Medals in Kickboxing and K1 while Corey O Malley from Galway won silver and bronze In Kickboxing and K-1.
So all in all a successful competition for Galway Black Dragon Kickboxing Gym, under stressful conditions.