Jack Woolley: Irish Olympian undergoes lip reconstruction surgery following street attack
Jack Woolley, who competed in taekwondo for Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics, was attacked in Dublin last weekend; the 22-year-old required lip reconstruction surgery but was grateful he didn't suffer more injuries
By PA Media
Last Updated: 17/08/21 11:48am
Irish Olympian Jack Woolley is recovering from lip reconstruction surgery after he was attacked during a night out in Dublin.
Woolley, who competed in taekwondo in Tokyo, was assaulted as he walked with a group of friends in the city centre.
The gang then attacked other people walking along Grattan Bridge at around 1am on Saturday, garda said.
The 22-year-old from Tallaght, who underwent surgery at the weekend, said he is lucky he did not suffer further injuries.
Images he posted on social media show extensive injuries to his lip, with his face and clothes covered in his blood.
The Olympian, who was eliminated in his opening fight in the 58kg division in Japan last month, had been out for dinner and drinks with friends in Dublin for the first time since returning from Tokyo.
Speaking after his ordeal, Woolley said: "I'm all right, it could be a lot worse. Luckily I got off light compared to other people but I'm doing as best I can.
"I was out having a few drinks with friends I hadn't seen since I've got back to Tokyo, and I was walking down the street in Dublin next to the (River) Liffey.
"I heard a noise and turned around and there was a few people on the street and by the time I turned back around to look where I was going, there was a few people on the road and one of them just turned and hit me, then apologised and said 'oh sorry, I hit the wrong person'.
"That person then continued on down the road to assault other people.
"A lot of people are asking questions, about why I didn't defend myself, but it was literally just one punch.
"A ring connected with my front teeth and bust my front lip open and at the time, the best thing to do was just to go and get safe and go to a point somewhere that I could safely call an ambulance."
Woolley said he is grateful he did not suffer more injuries as other people in the area were attacked with glass bottles and at least two people were stabbed.
"I feel very embarrassed over it, but it could have got a lot more worse if I had have retaliated, because there was many more people in worse states," he told RTÉ.
"I was the first one to be attacked and I was the last put in an ambulance, that's how bad other people were injured.
"I'm just very grateful that it didn't get any worse."
Woolley had surgery to have his lip reconstructed and is now recovering at home with stitches.
"The way it was cut was all the way through, there was a hole in my face and my top lip had completely come off so I needed to get stitches in the front and the back to get it back on," he added.
"I'm just taking each day as it comes. It's a bit tender."
Woolley said that while he is not concerned personally about going out in his home city, he warned that anyone could be attacked, particularly as so many young people are spending more time outside with ongoing coronavirus restrictions.