Kym Doyle shows off her wealth of recent titles

KYM DOYLE, at thirteen years old, is amongst the best kickboxers in her age and weight category in Europe.
The Clondalkin girl, fighting out of Palmerstown Bushido, travelled to the Hungarian WAKO World Cup last month, pulling off an astonishing series of results as she medalled in all four of the categories she entered.
Still more impressively, those came in two different weight categories. She took a gold medal in the 46kg light contact division, a silver in the 42kg point fighting division and two further bronze medals.
The medals follow a bronze in the European Championships in Spain last August, two Irish national titles won this time last year and, again this year, taking the national title in light contact and runner-up in the point fighting division.
It’s not all about the trophies, though. When GazetteSport visits the Stewart’s Centre in Palmerstown to check out one of Doyle’s training sessions, her passion for the sport shines through, with Doyle the star of an energetic training group.
“I started about four and a half years ago,” she tells us. “Throughout the year I train three nights a week, increasing to five times leading up to big tournaments.
“I like the confidence you get from competitions, and the satisfaction from doing well in them. I’m extremely lucky with the coaches I have; they are very helpful and give up so much time to train.
“There are two different, styles of fighting,” she explains. “In points fighting, if a point is scored by either kick or punch, then the ref stops it after awarding the point, then repeat. For light contact [continuous fighting] you fight non-stop with judges counting up the score as you go along.
“In Hungary [where Doyle had her recent success], it was done by weight and age. I fought in points and continuous, and in the 13-15 age group, so I was one of the younger fighters.
“The sport is really starting to grow and develop in Ireland, with a lot more competition in all age groups. There is the possibility of it becoming an Olympic sport, but not for a few years. I hope I’ll be still young enough to do it when it eventually does.”
Claire Louise Sweetman – Doyle’s long-time coach – is optimistic about the future of the sport. “The level has gone really really high in Ireland, and across the world, really, over I’d say the last ten years,” she explains. “These guys have come in at a really good time. We’ve been doing this for years, and only now is there starting to be talk of Olympic recognition. The Irish Sports Council have acknowledged us as a sport recently as well.”
Doyle is taking a sensible approach to her development. Her father, Conor, is keen to emphasise that she’s too young to manipulate her weight, preferring to go up a division if necessary.
Kym herself is yet to make a decision on going into the full-contact version of the sport, preferring instead to build in the two styles in which she already competes. “When she reaches the age of 16, she can make that decision for herself,” Conor explains.
With kickboxing on quite a long-term agenda for the Olympics, however, sponsorship is the greatest issue for those wishing to compete at an international level.
While Conor is keen to thank those who have already contributed to Kym’s competitive outings – including Naas Road Autos and DRL, who have been involved – there is a clear underlying message.
Following the world championships, which are fortunately located in Dublin’s Citywest in August, issues with funding these trips to competitions are going to be a hindrance to Kym’s development.
“It’s taken us to Spain, Italy and Poland over the last few years,” Conor explains. “It’s not bad this year with it being in Ireland, and KBI [Kickboxing Ireland] have subsidised the rates for the competitors, which is fantastic. But from a money point of view, it can be tough for parents to enable kids to compete.
“I am currently trying to find one or two companies who might be able to fund all of Kym’s foreign travel. Advertising on Fighting gear is permissible, which helps.”
As she bounces lightly off both feet before us, delivering uninhibited smashes to a sparring pad shaking in coach Sweetman’s hands, it’s easy to see the potential for a leap onto the Olympic stage for this dedicated young star.