22-year-old Olympic taekwondo star Jack Woolley says that he was lucky not to have received more serious injuries after he was viciously attacked in an unprovoked late-night assault in Dublin just days after returning from Tokyo.
Woolley was ‘sucker-punched’ by an unknown assailant shortly after midnight on August 14 while he was socializing with friends, resulting in injuries to his mouth and upper lip which later required reconstructive surgery in Dublin’s St. James’ Hospital.
The martial arts star went viral online just days beforehand after he gave a tearful interview following a dramatic, last-second exit from the Olympics – only to see himself once again swirl around social media last weekend for entirely different reasons.
Speaking to Irish radio, Woolley explained that he wasn’t the only person to have been attacked in the incident – and he believes that some others came off far worse than him.
“I was the first one, I recall, being attacked and I was the last one put in an ambulance. That’s how bad the other injuries must have been,” he told Morning Ireland.
“I’m just very grateful that it didn’t turn out a lot worse.“
Describing his injuries, Woolley said that there is a “hole” in his face and that his top lip had been almost completely severed from the rest of his face – the result, he says, of his attacker wearing a large ring.
“I’m back in [hospital] on Friday to get the stitches removed and I’ll find out more then. I’m just taking every day as it comes.
“The swelling is going down. At the time it wasn’t sore at all and there was a lot of adrenaline going on, so it wasn’t until after surgery that it began to be a little more tender.”
Woolley, though, says that he isn’t letting the incident keep him down and stated that there is no point to just “moping around“.
Moreover, Woolley said that he was surprised at the nature of the attack, given that it came in a very prominent part of Dublin’s city center, on the banks of the River Liffey and an area popular with the city’s buzzing tourist industry.
“I wasn’t too worried about going out in the city I had grown up in. It just goes to show that it can happen to anybody at any time,” Woolley continued.
“Everybody is out on the streets because that’s where we have to be unless you’re vaccinated so I think there’s a lot of people at risk from these gangs going around. It’s just unfortunate.”
He added that the attack appeared to have been a case of mistaken identity, as the aggressor uttered “Sorry, wrong person” after delivering the blow.
“I want to get on with it as best I can, go back to normal, go back to training as quick as possible,” he concluded.
“I don’t want my life to stop over a freak accident.”