Caradh O’Donovan, Karate Athlete and Former Kickboxer
- Sport and fitness
Name: Caradh O’Donovan
My job title: Karate Athlete and Former Kickboxer
My position in a nutshell… I’ve been doing Karate for four years and during that time I have been lucky enough to represent Ireland at the European and World Championships. I am currently training for the Olympic qualification events. Before that I was a Kickboxer for 20 years and I was lucky enough to have won multiple national, European and world titles in that sport. Sport has been a huge part of my life for the last 20 years. I have studied sport and have a degree in sports management and a master’s degree in sports psychology. I have always worked alongside being an elite athlete – I work as an athlete mentor, which is based in schools, and I also work in the media as a presenter on a sports radio show.
My typical day… It’s really varied but almost every day I will have one or two training sessions, especially as I am preparing for Olympic Qualifications. I am up at 5.30/6am and I start with a training session and depending on the day I will also do an evening session as well. During the day I might head to the studio to prepare for my sports show, so I’ll prepare all the content, keep up to date on what’s been happening in all the sports news and the news behind the headlines. I get to interview a lot of interesting sports people and go live on air a couple of hours each weekend to deliver the show.
On another day I may be doing some athlete mentoring, either in schools or online. That involves using skills from my careers as a sports person and transfer those skills outside of sports to help young people develop those skills and understand what it takes to be successful in any area they choose to be in.
My most memorable moment…It starts with a sad story and then becomes memorable. A few years ago, I had been very sick and had no energy to train. Eventually I got diagnosed with Chrone’s disease, which effects your intestines and any part of your digestive system. For me it effects every part of my body, it effects my joints and my wrists and elbows can all get swollen. It was a shock to receive that diagnoses and at the time no one believed that I could compete at a high level again however a year later I was able to get a lot of medical assistance and was able to manage the Chrones disease quite well. I got back to representing my country but also won a world cup a year later. That particular world cup stands out to be as the most memorable in my career because it was something I wasn’t sure I could do myself. I was able to work hard and believe in myself to achieve that.
The best part of my job…the variety that comes with it and it is so much fun. I think it is important to love what you do and to have fun. Pre pandemic I was able to travel a lot, see different countries and cultures.
The worst part of my job… The injuries – I have broken my nose five times and lot of other broken bones in the last year and a half. I have had surgery on my knee and two surgeries on my ankle. It’s not a dangerous sport but unfortunately, I have had a lot of injuries. When you are out and not able to compete for six months at a time it can be tough physically but also mentally, watching everyone else compete and travel and knowing you can’t be out there competing in something you love to do.
The key skills/attributes needed in your role… It takes a lot of hard work – you need to be prepared to fail before you succeed, and I don’t think that is talked about enough but expect to have some sort of knockbacks. Work hard, be resilient and be adaptable because in sport everything is changing all the time. You’ll continuously change techniques and tactics that will get you to be the best in the world. Your competitors are always looking at ways to beat you, so you need to change and adapt. Self-belief is also really important.
Advice for someone looking to go into something similar… I will focus on the media aspects of it. This was a huge challenge for me, and I have never done anything like this before. Be afraid to fall flat on your face, try new things and put yourself out there. It takes a lot of courage and you will make mistakes, which I have done live on air, but to fulfil what you want to do you have to try new things. So be courageous, be brave, jump in the deep end and see what happens!