Out bisexual Irish Olympic athlete Jack Woolley was assaulted in a random act of violence in the Irish capital of Dublin on Saturday night.
The 22-year-old athlete, who represented Ireland in Taekwondo at the Tokyo Olympics this year, was out for a night on the town with a friend. After a meal at a restaurant and a few drinks at a nearby bar, Woolley was attacked on a bridge close to midnight, while his friends looked on in horror.
The attack, which was labelled as “random” and “out of the blue” by Woolley, resulted in him requiring facial reconstructive surgery and made for some pretty gruesome social media posts.
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“Thank you to everyone for all the messages to see how I am doing. Last night … I went for a meal with my friend. Followed by a bar for a couple of drinks. Heading back along the River Liffey a gang of roughy 8-12 men and women in their 20s began violently attacking people along the boardwalk,” Woolley shared.
“Unfortunately I was victim to these random attacks as I was just walking by before I was punched in the face by one of these group members. Only one punch and followed by ‘my mistake wrong person’ then they continued to run off down the road attacking more civilians minding their own business.”
“Luckily I was able to phone an ambulance and stay conscious. My friends helped me throughout all over this and I’m glad to say they both are well and safe. I am lucky this is all that happened as there were a handful of us hospitalised and one I have heard to have died after being stabbed (word of mouth). I’m currently waiting in James’s hospital for mouth surgery.
“Thank you all again for the support and kind messages. I hope for a speedy recovery. It’s been a tough couple of months.”
His mum Annette spoke to Irish publication, The Echo after the incident and reiterated the random nature of the attack and also expressed concern the stitches might mar his beauty but scars are cool, so.
“His poor face – he is a good-looking lad and I don’t know what way it is going to be after the reconstructive surgery. We are assuming that it was random. We don’t know if someone recognised him and thought it would be funny, but there were other people attacked at the same time,” said Annette.
The Gardai, the national police service of the Republic of Ireland reported a short time after the attack that “no arrests have been made” but “investigations are ongoing.”
Bisexual Olympic Athletes Rare In Taekwondo
Woolley came out as bisexual to the world during the making of a documentary about his journey in attempting to make it to the Rio Olympics in 2016.
He has since spoken about the challenges of being out. “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. People assume a lot about you when you are given a label.”
“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.”
“Most people don’t care, though, and they shouldn’t care. It’s only if you have a problem with me, I will have a problem with you.”
If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.
For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14
For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.