Player Insight: Damian Darker – K1


Name: Damian Darker 

Age: 25

Sport: K1 (Kickboxing)

What made you choose combat sport? Did you start with something else?

  • I was 4 years of age when I started a combat sport so I guess it’s all I’ve ever known really, I wanted to do it because of the tv programs I was watching at the time had cool martial arts scenes in them and that had an influence on me but the decision ultimately came down to my parents at that age so they decided it would be a good decision to find a local club for myself and I started Taekwondo from there.


What is your greatest sporting achievement?

  • My greatest sporting achievement to this day is probably winning my first professional k1 title last year and then successfully defending it twice this year winning it outright.


What is your current sporting goal and how do you plan to go about getting it?

  • My current goal is to break into the international k1 scene and get the biggest promotions & shows out there. I’m going about it by constantly training hard in order to better myself but also trying to stay ready cause it’s not like a season in a lot of sports it’s a lot less predictable as far as competitive regularity so that’s why when opportunities arise I have to be fit & ready in order to grab it with both hands.


Aside from your sporting achievements and athletic ability, do you think there are any attributes you have acquired over the years from sport, that benefit you in your life outside of sport?

  • Yes, 100% there are plenty. Socially there is a lot to be gained from sport and I feel I gained a lot of social skills just from being involved in sport from a young age. I also believe it helped me a lot with dealing with pressure & nerves when In school or college exams. I always felt if I could deal with the nerves before physical combat/competition and still go through with the contest the nerves before an exam would be a piece of cake and it always was the case for me personally. Also manners & etiquette are another huge things gained from sort by learning respect for team/club mates & opposition.


What was your lowest point in sport and how did you stay positive so that you continued to grow?

  • My lowest point In sport would have to be losing in the full contact WAKO world championships in 2015 and I remember being so disappointed with my performance but ultimately I had lost the love for that style of kickboxing and felt we didn’t have a level playing field with other countries in that discipline so I decided after that loss I was finished with amateur full contact kickboxing and I was going to make the transition to professional k1 and I haven’t looked back since as I feel personally it’s the best I’ve been and I have that hunger back again.


What is the greatest opportunity that sport has given you? 

  • Traveling the world competing is probably one of the greatest opportunities sport has giving me as I would have never been to most of the countries or seen what I’ve seen or met the people I’ve met if it wasn’t for sport.


To a lot of people think what you do is extremely intense for many reasons. Do you think you have to be a particular type of person to enjoy it?  

  • Not particularly because I certainly don’t class my self as an aggressive or extremely intense person which people sometimes think you need to be, I just badly wanted to win my chosen sport and that is what became addictive to me is the winning aspect not the fighting aspect and I know that sounds funny but it’s that feeling of winning that got me hooked and you just have to be willing to put in the work in to be ready come fight night in order to get that win and that’s the hard part so I believe you have to be determined more than anything I believe you have to be a determined and dedicated individual more so than just an aggressive person in order to do well in this sport or any combat sport.

What’s your advice to the younger you?

  • It would be to find that happy medium between training hard and being the best you can be while still being a kid and having a childhood that you can look back on fondly because if you don’t you will more than likely look back on it with some regret in some shape or form and the same can be said the other way around if you don’t play a sport as a kid you can end up looking back in regret but it’s never too late to start! I feel my parents done a great job of having that happy medium approach with me and it’s something I’m grateful for.


What’s your advice to someone who has never played a sport before and is considering, picking one up?

  • Try and find a local club that’s easily accessible so there are as little hurdles in your way as possible as far as you attending and then join ASAP! Seriously as I’ve already stated in a question above there are numerous attributes you will gain from sport whether it will be physical or mental it will change you for the better and I can guarantee you won’t look back once you find the sport that you enjoy.


Who is your inspiration? 

  • My coach, family and girlfriend are all an inspiration to me and they all drive me on to succeed.


If you have any additional comments, please share below. 

  • Thanks very much Nutrikate for asking me to do this questionnaire, I love what your doing keep it up!

Player Insight: Sinéad Goldrick – Dublin GAA

Athlete: Sinéad Goldrick  

Age: 27

Position: Half back

How did you get into sport in the first place? What made you take it up?  

  • I loved all types of sports growing up. My parents always encouraged me to take up any sport I was interested in. It meant that I was doing two different training sessions a day, one after school and one in the evening. I wanted to play everything I could from Gaelic football, athletics and basketball, to swimming, gymnastics and a little Irish dancing.


I know you from the basketball court, did that have any positive influence on your ability on the Gaelic pitch? 

  • I think there are so many transferable skills from basketball that you can incorporate in Gaelic football. Playing basketball growing up there was a huge focus to improve your hand-eye coordination. I used to practice this a lot by trying to improve my dribbling skills so I feel that it has helped me on the Gaelic pitch to try and dispose players.


What is your main focus?  

  • My main focus at the moment is with my club, Foxrock Cabinteely. We are currently in the Leinster Senior Club Championship Final for a third year in a row. I love playing with my club as it is with girls that I’ve known for 20+ years and it’s a special feeling winning and playing with them.


Who is your inspiration? 

  • I have a few inspirational people in my life, one of which is my family. Regardless of the result of a certain game, they are there to support, congratulate or commiserate. Our current Dublin captain, Sinead Aherne, is also an inspiration of mine. I think she is one of the most talented ladies Gaelic football players to ever play the game. She leads by example on the pitch but is also very insightful. Whenever she speaks to us as a team, we all lean in and listen. Personally, I have huge respect for her as a player and a friend on and off the field.Another sporting hero of mine is Lindsay Peat. She has many strings to her bow and is an incredibly talented athlete across several codes. She is a former Irish basketball player, a Dublin ladies star and a current Irish rugby player who has just competed in the Women’s Rugby World Cup just gone by. She also has a wonderful character and I love her enthusiasm and energy she has as a person.


What is your greatest sporting achievement?

  • It has to be finally winning the All Ireland Final this year and to also have played in front of 46,286 fans which was incredible. It was the highest attended women’s sporting event of 2017. Also, reaching the All Ireland Club final last year with my club Foxrock Cabinteely was a great journey.


What is your current sporting goal and how do you plan to go about getting it?

  • At the moment, it’s to win a Senior Club Leinster medal with the hopes of going further in the competition.


Aside from your sporting achievements and athletic ability, do you think there are any attributes you have acquired over the years from sport, that benefit you in your life outside of GAA?

  • I think one of the most important things I have learned is resilience. Sport can be hard sometimes and life can be similarly challenging. Life will throw you a curve ball and what I have learned from sport is to try take it in my stride as there are some things you can’t control, you can only control how you react. In addition, I feel honesty and a high level work rate are two things that are really important in team sport, if you can apply those characteristics into your working life I think people will respect you for that and you will go a long way.


How have you learned to manage juggling work and playing at such a competitive level? Is there anything you struggle with the most?

  • It was certainly difficult coming out of college where there is a small bit more flexibility. Each year, I am getting better at organising my work-life balance. Finding time to unwind can be difficult but it is so important. It is something I have consciously tried to budget time for. Just because you are playing at a competitive level doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be enjoying yourself along the way!


Have you had to sacrifice a lot to be where you are? Is there anything you would change? 

  • Yes, but that’s a choice I am happy to make. The majority of your time is either, working or training so sometimes it can be hard to see your friends and family and go to social events. Thankfully I have great friends and family who understand that I have to miss out on events for training or matches. I wouldn’t change that, I’m part of something special and really enjoy what I’m doing.


In your opinion, what does it mean to be part of a team?  

  • It’s a special feeling that you don’t get in other walks of life. You are with a bunch all girls from all different backgrounds with the same common goal. There’s a huge sense of unity and I love being part of an environment of like-minded people working together to achieve the same goal.


Has Gaelic football opened many doors for you? 

  • Yes, I have been lucky enough to travel with football to Toronto, Hong Kong and San Diego to play in exhibition matches with 30 girls from different county teams. Being able to see a bit of the world was amazing and it also gave me the opportunity to get to know girls from different teams which is important. We’re all promoting our sport when all things are said and done.


Are there any other sports you would like to try and should we expect to see you in a different kit soon enough?

  • I’d like to go back playing basketball again in the off season! I miss it a lot.


What’s your advice to the younger Sinéad?

  • Work hard and always enjoy yourself.


What’s your advice to someone who has never played a sport before and is considering picking one up?

  • Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. There may be people that have more talent than you but there’s no excuse for them to work harder than you. Always remember to enjoy the sport you are playing and work hard at it, the rest will fall into place!


* Photo credit: The Herald Newspaper