Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon
INSTEAD of packing lunches as her children return to school in the coming days, Galway mother-of-two Whitney Sheppard will look to be packing punches when she fights German champion Evelyn Gallegos for the vacant IKF Atomweight World K-1 title in the Clayton Hotel on Saturday.
While Sheppard (31) acknowledges this is the biggest fight of her career – it is the headline event at the ‘Clash in the Clayton’ – the occasion has been heightened with her 11-year-old daughter Sofia fighting on the undercard earlier in the evening.
Indeed, what hurling is to the Canning household, kickboxing is the same in the Sheppard home. For her husband Peter is also a champion fighter and World Organisation of Martial Arts Athletes (WOMAA) World Games medal winner while her other daughter, four-year-old Taylor, is part of the Little Dragons initiative.
“It is great,” says Sheppard of having the whole family involved in the sport. “Sofia is telling me now she is getting nervous and I am like ‘I know, I am nervous too with the two of us fighting on the one show’. Peter was also meant to fight but he didn’t get a match. I think he is fighting in December now, so it is fine.”
As for Sheppard herself, she admits she does have a few butterflies heading into Saturday’s showpiece. “Yes, I am very nervous,” she laughs. “I love fighting. I fought 36 times so far – and enjoyed it – so it is not about that. It is just such a big fight but it is lovely to be in Galway and to have all my family and friends there. It is nice to have the support.”
Given Sheppard, who is a sister of hugely successful martial arts exponent Paul Huish, has been fighting competitively since the age of 15, she has plenty of experience she can draw on when she meets the teak-tough German.
“The girl I am fighting is Evelyn Gallegos and she’s very good. She has had more fights than me and she just won a big tournament over in England. She fights kickboxing, boxing and K-1. She is all round very good.
“I have seen her on YouTube and on Facebook and that kind of thing. She won’t stop. I know I have to be very fit for this fight because she is all go. That is pretty much all I know about her other than she is here to fight. As her coach said to Pete (Foley, promoter), they are not coming for a holiday. So, she means business.”
For her part, Sheppard began her career at the age of 14 when she saw a poster in a shop advertising a show and classes for Foley’s Black Dragon gym. “I rang from a pay phone – that is how long ago it was – and I started the next week,” she recalls.
“I didn’t want to go on my own so I brought my brother Paul with me. He came for the first class, didn’t really like it and left for a couple of months and then came back and became world champion before me! So, that is how I started.”
She had played a little hockey in school but, for Sheppard, this was something she really loved – and “was good at from the start”.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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Swimmer rescued in Salthill by Galway Lifeboat crew
Galway RNLI Lifeboat rescued a swimmer who got into difficulty near Blackrock this afternoon in poor weather conditions.
The alarm was raised at 12.25pm by a pedestrian who saw the woman struggling in the water between Blackrock and Ladies Beach. The Irish Coast Guard sought the assistance of the RNLI Lifeboat who launched from Galway Docks a short time later.
The woman who was a couple of hundred metres from the shore opposite the Galway Bay Hotel. They took the woman on board and brought her back to the Lifeboat Station where an ambulance was waiting. Paramedics assessed the woman’s condition and she was allowed home a short time later.
Shane Folan, Deputy Launch Authority with Galway Lifeboat said: “We would advise anyone thinking of going swimming to let someone else know. Today, for example, there were very challenging weather conditions with high winds and breaking surf.”
The lifeboat volunteer crew on the call-out were: David Badger (Helmsman), Martin Oliver, Ross Forde and James Rhattigan.
Gardaí warn GMIT students about weekend travel as Covid numbers rise
Students at GMIT have been warned by Gardaí that there will be checks at the bus and train stations to ensure compliance with the 5km travel rule – as the HSE warned today of increasing numbers testing positive for Covid-19 in the Galway City student outbreaks.
The college emailed all students to inform them that management had a meeting with Gardaí in relation to students planning on travelling home at weekends.
While students are permitted to travel to and from GMIT for educational purposes when there are onsite classes, there are no onsite classes scheduled at the moment and therefore there should not be any travel for educational purposes.
“The Gardaí have notified us that there will be checks at the bus and train stations to implement the 5km travel rule, as well as checkpoints on the roads, and that fines will be given for any non-compliance with this rule,” the email reads.
Meanwhile students at the college were also told that following the Covid outbreak last week among GMIT students, numbers are still increasing.
“The HSE informs us that numbers testing Covid positive continue to rise,” the email reads.
Help local charities by sharing your pandemic feelings
The public has been invited to write down and share with others their experience of living in Galway through the global Coronavirus pandemic.
‘Three Questions’, an initiative spearheaded by Galway Volunteer Centre, wants people of all ages and backgrounds to log their thoughts and feelings on the past year living with the reality of Covid-19.
The project aims are twofold: to develop a written archive of the memories of Galway people from the past 12 months but also the act of writing down those memories can act as a sort of therapeutic exercise for the public.
People are being asked to divulge their memories by answering three questions: what was your biggest challenge in the past year; what was the biggest lesson you have learned in the past year; and can you think of someone or something you are grateful for over the past 12 months and why?
The collection of people’s written memories will form an archive that will benefit all, but the individual act of writing down memories is also beneficial to the person who takes part, explained Donncha Foley, Manager of Galway Volunteer Centre.
“There’s a lot of science behind this in that there’s a lot of evidence to show that reflecting on the past and learning from it is of great benefit from a mental health perspective and personal development and also the idea of showing gratitude to somebody else has huge mental health benefits as well,” he said.
Mr Foley said what is unique about Covid-19 is that everybody has been impacted by it, and everyone has a memory of it.
“Some changes have been very dramatic for some people, for others maybe not so much but everybody has been affected in some way. There are very few opportunities to meet up and talk about the challenges of the last year, and from a mental health perspective we feel it would be useful for people to use this initiative to think about what’s happened over the last 12 months,” he said.
The project is part of the Keep Well campaign launched by Government and funded through Healthy Ireland and Pobal.
People who respond to the initiative are asked to nominate a local charity or community group and there are two prizes of €500 up for grabs for those organisations if your memories are chosen as the winner.
Submissions will be reviewed by Galway Volunteer Centre and a selection will be published – with permission of the participants – on social media and in the Galway City Tribune.
“We’re hoping that we gather enough so that people can look at other people’s experiences and get their perspectives on the year and see that many people have had the same challenges.
“The phrase that has been used often is that ‘we’re all in this together’ and this is an opportunity to reflect together while still maintaining social distancing,” Mr Foley said.
Applications are available in this week’s Galway City Tribune, and can be returned to Volunteer Galway, 27 William Street West, Galway. To submit your answers online, visit the centre’s website.
The deadline for submissions is March 9, and there is no word count limit – contributions can be long or short. Entrants must include contact details.
(Photo: Donncha Foley of Galway Volunteer Centre)