Caradh O’Donovan is a Champion Kickboxer who has been winning World and European Kickboxing medals for the past two decades. More recently she has turned her hand to WKF Karate and within three months has become Senior National Champion and a member of the Karate Ireland Squad.
From a young age, Caradh has wanted to be a world class athlete and compete on the world stage of martial arts. Although the best in her field, it hasn’t always been a straight forward path for her. After experiencing unexplained illness for years in her twenties, her results in kickboxing competition suffered and her goal of becoming World Champion took a serious blow. In 2014, after years of battling illness Caradh was diagnosed with Crohns Disease. A debilitating illness, Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Signs and symptoms often include abdominal pain and cramps, diarrhoea (which may be bloody if the inflammation is severe), fever, vomiting and weight loss. It’s thought around 20,000 people live with IBD in Ireland.
Upon diagnosis, Caradh was faced with a severe challenge and choice to make. This could have been the end of her sporting career. However, she chose to make a serious come back to competitive kickboxing after a year out to get healthy and learning how to manage this life long disease. The success of this comeback was marked by Caradh winning the Irish Open World Cup, which is the largest and most prestigious World Cup in the World of Kickboxing. Since then she has gone from strength to strength adding European Titles, a plethora of World Cup titles and World Championship Medals to her list of accolades. Furthermore she has made the crossover to Karate of late and has had immediate success in this field also.
Experiencing discrimination and isolation over this disease within sport, Caradh has decided to continue on within her sport to raise awareness of Crohns Disease and also to reduce the stigma attached to it. She speaks publicly about her journey to success, blogs often on her daily challenges and balances an athletic career in both Kickboxing and Karate while working as an Athlete Mentor, Public Speaker and Coach.