Watch: Moray martial arts fighter and SBG Moray coach Kevin McAloon wins gold medal with a broken ankle at IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) London Open
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Not even a broken ankle could stop martial arts star Kevin McAloon from winning an international event.
The 30-year-old fractured his right tibia during the semi finals of the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) London Open, but shrugged the injury off as a sprain.
He then competed in the final just 15 minutes later and scored a takedown on his rival to achieve his dream of a major gold medal.
Watch YouTube footage below from McAloon's final, taking his opponent down not knowing his ankle was broken.
The words rang true from McAloon’s latest tattoo – which he got shortly before the event – which uses Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius’ quote ‘You have power over your mind – not outside events’.
Perhaps inspired by his own ink, the Moray fighter - who coaches at SBG Moray in Elgin - needed great mental strength, as well as skill, to battle through the pain barrier.
“In terms of pain I think it was just adrenaline kicking in,” he recalled. “I wasn’t going to accept a silver medal without trying. I knew I might lose the final anyway but at least I gave it a shot.”
McAloon heard a crack after stumbling during his semi final victory but had no idea he had broken a bone in battle.
Having won silver the previous day in the medium heavy gi competition (where a kimono-type outfit is worn and competitors can grab the clothing), he was determined to go one better in the no-gi event as he was desperate to win his first-ever IBJJF gold medal.
“I was 6-0 up on points, which is pretty hard to come back on, and I went to do a technique on this guy and he put me off balance and I stumbled,” he said. “I twisted my ankle underneath me and fell backwards.
“I went over the inside of my ankle and I heard this crack. I thought I had just twisted it.
“I managed to finish off the match because there wasn’t too much time left. You have to go back to this area called the bullpen where all the competitors go and sit and wait for your next match.
“I remember feeling pain going up my shin and I was trying to ignore it and say ‘that’s fine, I won’t do anything crazy’ but I knew it didn’t feel right.”
The final was less than 15 minutes later and he was swiftly back in action.
“I managed to score a takedown on him and won the final with just two points. Once I scored the takedown I couldn’t do much because at that point my ankle really started to hurt,” he said.
Once McAloon got his gold medal, he didn’t even go to hospital but instead went to see a show in London with his girlfriend Kirsty.
“I sat in the show for three hours and after I got up I realised it was a lot worse.”
He was persuaded to go to hospital where he spent the next 12 hours, missing his flight home in the process. He was put in plaster and didn’t require surgery.
McAloon is inspired by his footballing hero Henrik Larsson, who had a horror leg break, but eventually returned to the pitch stronger.
“That’s the way I have to look at it. I have a shot at making myself as good as I was before,” he added.