By Caoilte de Barra
In the past, IMMAF tournaments have not always gone to plan for Ireland’s Kian McCarton. Competing at flyweight, he dropped losses in the opening bouts of his previous two tournaments. However, a decision to move down a division has paid off after we saw just how good he is in a gold medal winning performance at the 2022 European Championships.
In the moments following his win, you could tell it meant a lot to him, and he was ecstatic with the performance.
“I had the one fight against a tough opponent from Ukraine. They were the team to beat in this tournament. So I was happy I could get him, dominate the three rounds and come out on top with a gold medal.”
“It feels much sweeter now to have that gold medal after taking two losses in a row in IMMAF competition and getting put out in the very first round. Strawweight, I think, is my new division. I made the weight, not a bother. I didn’t struggle once, and I felt much stronger in there.”
Throughout the week, McCarton was in the stands patiently waiting for his opportunity to compete while cheering on his teammates in full voice on every occasion. His support was repaid on the final day when he was the sole Irish athlete in action.
“The support was deadly. It’s great to come to these competitions. We might all compete against each other back home, but we’re all doing it for one reason. When we come to these competitions, it’s for a nation. You really feel that togetherness when you come here.”
Before the competition, the SBG Ireland athlete headed out to Bangtao Muay Thai and MMA to experience what it’s like to train in Thailand. Thanks to sponsorship, he was able to make the journey over and focus on nothing but training.
“I wanted to experience something new, and then I got great support back home from a sponsor. So, without them, nothing would be possible because working and training, at the same time, is very hard. Like I live a professional lifestyle as an amateur and at an amateur rate, you know, zero, no money.
“The lads I met over there were just amazing to me. I was only there for a month, but they took me in straightaway. Like I was a part of our family nearly.
“You wake up every day, train, sit on the beach, recover and then do it again. And there are no distractions over there. I didn’t have to worry about work or anything. But of course, shout out to SBG lads back home. They’re the ones who built me, and without them, I wouldn’t be any sort of success. I am now. So shout out to both gyms, especially for this camp.”
His dedication and training certainly paid dividends at the European Championships and upon his arrival at Dublin airport, it was a heartwarming moment as he was greeted by family and friends.
Next on the agenda for Kian is to continue his training, and plans on mixing up his locations between Dublin, Liverpool and Thailand, with eyes on adding another gold medal at the World Championships.