Monday, November 20, 2017

Talking Karate and Olympic dreams with Shauna Mullaney

The Teenge Ninja Turtles have a lot to answer for, not least 14 years of Shauna Mullaney’s life dedicated to karate. Coming 11th in the Junior Worlds, she’s now set her sights on Tokyo2020.

We met in the café at Dublin City University, after lectures finish for the day and before her regular training session. This is the stuff people forget when they dream of being champions – somehow you have to make a living, study, be part of a family and fit intense training in.
Shauna said: ‘I was really into the Teenage Ninja Turtles, I thought that was so cool. I started Karate with my sister, she got her black belt eventually and left but I’m just enthralled by it. I’m into the tiny details like the way your toes face. And I’ve made my friends here now, we have so much craic and messing.’
She says her coaches think the girls are more agile, use the techniques more than the boys who rely more on strength and power. She shrugs and says it’s probably true, but it doesn’t bother her who she’s sparring with as long as it’s fun.
Seven years on the Irish national squad has taught her to take the learning where she can. Learning and travelling – Russia and Serbia on the list for next year. She turns 21 in June so this is her last shot at the Junior titles.
‘We travel a lot, it’s my social outlet. I don’t drink but when we’re together you’ve got the team feeling on the Irish squad, and the club-feeling at Nationals. There’s isn’t any cattiness. I wouldn’t rely much on social media; coming up to competitions I’m not scrolling through, looking at the other girls. You just need the right mind-set.’
Collage images Instagram @Shauna_m16
And even though Karate is a weight-category-based competition, Shauna says she manages it by staying around her target weight all the time. She laughs at the mention of salt baths and other crash weight-cut methods, shaking her head at the idea of such ‘torture’.
Maybe this comes from the open nature of women’s competitions at some tournaments. Clocking in to the -55kg category, she has competed against women in a spread from 48 to 60kgs but says that as the numbers of women grow, this happens less frequently.
For her pre-competition food she turns to ‘mam’s cooking’ if possible for lasagne or spaghetti bolognese. Breakfast on the day is oats. She said: ‘I bring Flahavans porridge when me to tournaments, crackers or Nature Valley cereal bars. It’s like I have a piece of Ireland with me.’

And of course you can’t talk about Karate now without bringing up the dream of Tokyo2020. Although Shauna has a strong practical streak (studying economics does that), she still has dreams. One of the newest Olympic sports, Shauna has seen so many new faces at her gym and people crossing over from other martial arts.
She said: ‘I think Tokyo has had a good impact. There are more women for sparing with, you meet new people now. There’re people coming in from Taekwondo, Kickboxing and other Karate bodies.
‘I would have ambitions for Tokyo. We’re a small country but we get good rankings. I want to go to the Olympics, it would be a dream come true.’
Follow Shauna’s Karate journey on Instagram @shauna_m16

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