Moville man Ruairi Dougal scooped gold at the European Wado-Kai Championships in Dublin last weekend.
Dougal has been competing for the Irish Karate team over the last 16 years and has always harboured the dream of winning a European title.
Seven years ago, in Portugal. Dougal reached the final at the European Wado-Kai Championships. During his semi-final, he suffered a dislocation of his shoulder and torn ligaments.
“I had to forfeit my European final which was truly heart breaking and to be honest I wasn’t sure if I’d ever make another European final,” Dougal says now, after finally realising his dream.
Dougal has had a massive year.
He won back-to-back Irish titles in March, leading to a recall to the national team.
On his comeback for Ireland, Dougal took the heavyweight bronze at the Wado World Championships in England.
And last weekend, at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght, Dougal got his hands on a European gold medal.
He said: “This was a dream come true for me to win a European Title since making my debut for the Irish Team 16 years ago.
“It’s been a very exciting year for me.
“Before that, I took a lot of time out. Over the past 24 months, I have been back training and competing in Ireland again and have made some international comebacks.”
Dougal lives and works in Belfast, but still returns to Moville at the weekends.
He is a member of the Kobuchi Karate Club, who are based out of the Templemore Sports Complex in Derry. He trains under the direction of Jim Green.
Dougal said: “In the run-up to the Worlds and Europeans, Jim came down to Belfast mid-week to train with me and I was attending Irish Squad training sessions in Dublin every second week.
“I train six days a week, which includes gym work, strength and conditioning, track work, bag work and specific karate sparing and fighting drill work.”
Dougal is now hoping to compete in a Serie A event in Guadalajara, Spain next March and will aim to gain valuable Olympic ranking points, while he will attend various qualifiers around Europe in 2019.