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Olympic hopeful Jack Woolley says some opponents won't shake his hand after he came out as bisexual

The Irish athlete made history as the first Irish person to qualify for the Olympics in Taekwondo

2020-01-24

Words: Steve Brown

Olympic hopeful Jack Woolley says some opponents won’t shake his hand after he came out as bisexual.

The Irish athlete became the first Irish person to qualify for the Olympics in Taekwondo and four years ago, Woolly came out as bisexual while appearing on the documentary Road to Rio.

But while speaking to Extra.ie, the athlete has opened up about facing discrimination from fellow athletes, claiming some won’t shake his hand.

He said: “It is tough, my sport.

“A lot of the top athletes would be Muslim, so you can’t be too open about it. I have had some opponents who wouldn’t shake my hand and I’m just thinking, ‘You need to cop on’.

“Some have, though. One of the top fighters in the world came up to shake my hand after I won the European silver. I appreciated that.

 
 
 
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“It’s only if you have a problem with me, I will have a problem with you.

“Maybe it can be good, maybe I can be an inspiration to some young people.

“And if someone wants to talk to me about what they are going through, they can but I’m not throwing it in your face.”

Although coming out four years ago, Woolley admits he wished he ‘never labelled’ his sexuality and says he doesn’t want his sexuality to define him.

He continued: “I just wish I never labelled it. I still don’t like labelling it. People are just hell-bent on giving everyone labels nowadays.

“I don’t want to be that. I want to be the first Irish Olympian in my sport, the lad from Tallaght who went to the Olympics, not Jack the gay athlete.”

 
 
 
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