Garda award for Karate Kid Kate who fought off attacker
A gutsy teenager who warded off a would-be attacker with a karate kick, despite suffering from debilitating anxiety, has received a garda award for her bravery.
Kate Mulhern (17) received the overall prize at the Meath Garda Youth Awards in Kells last week for her courage in the terrifying attack near her Navan home last April.
Kate was walking her new puppy in daylight when a man tried to grab her toward a waiting car.
Despite suffering from debilitating anxiety, Kate's fighting instincts took over and she knocked the man back against the car with a kenpo karate kick.
Kate is a brown belt in kenpo and represented Ireland twice last year, as well as competing in the World Championships in 2017.
"I was walking the dog and thought there was a guy following me. He overtook me and then turned around to grab me into a waiting car but I kicked him hard in the ribs and he fell back against the car," she said.
"He jumped into the car and it drove off at high speed."
Kate's school, Beaufort College in Navan, nominated her for the award for overcoming her anxiety with bravery and also for championing martial arts to women.
A message from the school read: "Kate still has a long way to go to try to cope with her anxiety but she has shown a tremendous amount of courage and inspiration in speaking out about what happened her, and she has shown maturity in the way she has used her training to help with her anxiety.
"Kate is a very focused young woman and this incident has shown her that she can overcome her anxiety."
Kate has now received hundreds of emails from young girls who started martial arts after being inspired by her.
"Since the incident my confidence has really improved. I suffered really badly with anxiety the last four years, some days I would just freeze and wouldn't be able to go to school," the teenager said.
"When this happened, it wasn't anxiety that kicked in, the training overruled it thankfully and now I'm beginning to realise that I can do anything if I want to.
"I'm so delighted to receive this award. It's really all down to the school and my kenpo coach Paul Brennan.
"If I can get a few girls to take it up as a form of self-defence, I'll be happy.
"I also want to tell young people not to be ashamed or embarrassed if they suffer from anxiety. Just ask for help."
Her mum Hazel said: "We are all so very proud of her. I've seen the way anxiety has affected Kate in the last few years and it's terrible.
"But now she realises that there is nothing to really be anxious about. The worst did happen and she got through it and survived."
Local Sergeant Dean Kerins described the awards as a "tremendous success".
"We had a massive amount of nominations and they were all winners in their own right. They really are an exceptional bunch of people," he said.