Two weeks ago, Shauna Bannon represented Ireland at the World Association Kickboxing Organisations (WAKO) World Championships, returning home with two gold medals while also crowned female fighter of the tournament.
The Tallaght native talks us through her amazing feat and what her plans for the future are.
The WAKO World Championships were held in Budapest, Hungary from November 2-12, bringing the best kickboxers in the world together to compete.
Bannon explains how that winning feeling felt:
“When I won my second final I just screamed, it proved all my hard work and the sacrifices I made were worth it.
“I had eight tough fights- four in point fighting and four in continuous fighting- to get my two world titles.
“It meant so much to me to get these as I’ve trained harder than ever this year. But the highlight of the week was definitely winning best female fighter of the tournament.
“WAKO is the highest standard of kickboxing organisation and out of 750 top class female athletes from all over the world – I was awarded the best. It was a really amazing high to the end of a successful week”.
The Bannon family are known for their strong links to kickboxing. Her father Martin is an established figure in the sport and set up Tallaght Martial Arts in 1993, while her sister Nicole also represented Ireland at the same WAKO event.
This shared passion was a major bonus for Shauna prior to her amazing achievements:
“It’s the best thing ever to have my family around me when I’m kickboxing because we know how each of us is feeling and it’s a great sense of support.
“There is a lot of emotion and stress in the lead up to a world championship and to have someone so close to you completely understand because they’re going through the same emotions, it just makes it that bit easier.
“We are a strong team and I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support of my dad and sister pushing me to my max and being there for all the extra training sessions. I also couldn’t have done it without my mam who plays a huge part in my preparation, helping me with everything and being so understanding.
“I have a lot to thank the three of them for.”
A stalwart at TMA, Bannon acknowledges she couldn’t have succeeded without her teammates pushing her too her limits:
“(They’re) a huge influence right from the cadets all the way to the veterans. Without being biased TMA is the best point fighting club in Ireland.
“We have so many world and European champions in that environment (and) training with the best motivates me so much. The better they are the better I get so it’s just a constant growth for the club.”
Just over a year ago, Richard Kiely transitioned from a successful kickboxing career into the world of MMA.
But this isn’t something Bannon ever sees herself doing:
“To be honest the stigma around MMA bothers me. I’ve done kickboxing since I’m three and it’s always been about respect and I think it’s that way in the majority of martial arts.
“I just don’t know if all the drama before a fight would be for me. It can be a great sport and I think what Conor McGregor has done for the sport is amazing for Irish athletes but I don’t really see a future in MMA at the moment.”
Never the woman to rest on her merits she has now opted to switch sports and challenge herself at Taekwondo with the aim of representing Ireland in the Olympics:
“It’s a three year cycle until the next Olympics so I will have to train extra hard and perform 100% to reach my goal for Tokyo 2020.
“I have the best support from South Dublin Taekwondo and the Irish Taekwondo Union with great coaches and training partners so it’s up to me now to step up and deliver at international events to gain ranking points for Tokyo.”