HAVING claimed a bronze medal at the Cadet European Taekwondo Championships last year, teenager Simone Abley has targeted more success when she makes her debut on the world stage next week.
The Whitworth Park School and Sixth Form pupil, who scooped the Most Promising Talent prize at last year’s Local Heroes Awards, already has plenty of accolades to her name having claimed a British title last September and won at the Serbia Open.
Next week’s competition is not only Simone’s first foray onto the world stage, but it is also the first ever Cadet World Championships. In preparation, the 14-year-old has undertaken an intense training schedule over the last six weeks, which has included travelling down to Manchester every weekend to train with the Great Britain squad.
France, Brazil, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, India, Philippines, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Serbia, Canada, Germany and Ukraine are all represented at the event, but while she admits it will be her toughest challenge yet, Abley revealed she is feeling confident ahead of her first fight.
“I’m very excited to be part of the first World Cadet Championships,” she said. “I’ve spent the last year working towards this competition and I can’t wait to get over there and get started.
“Training has gone really well. I’ve put my all into every session and hopefully that will pay off when I get to Azerbaijan.
“I’ve been working on a few aspects of my fighting, but the things I’ve improved on most are my aggression and strength and that will put me in a good position when I fight.
“I’ll be fighting against people I haven’t seen before, which will be hard. It makes me nervous, because I don’t know how they’re going to play, but I will try to figure out a way to win.
“I feel more confident than I did going into the European Cadet Championships and my goal is to come home with a medal, because then I’ll have a world ranking. I just like to keep it simple and not over-complicate things.”
Simone has followed in the footsteps of her older brothers, Scott and Jamie, who have both represented their country, and Dad Andrew believes she is going into next week’s championships a much stronger competitor than she was 12 months ago at the Europeans.
He said: “From the work Simone has put it, we’re confident she is as ready as she’ll ever be. The last six weekends she has been down in Manchester with GB training and they have been absolutely delighted with the progress she’s made since winning the bronze at the Europeans.
“They knew then she was a young girl with a great deal of potential and talent, but they’re delighted with her approach and her focus towards training and competing.
“Her aspiration is to become world champion. That’s the pinnacle in taekwondo, but now it’s an Olympic sport we certainly feel the 2020 Games are a target if Simone continues to work hard and be successful.
“Mentally and physically she’s in a very good place and I’m really pleased with the way she’s worked.”
Simone’s journey to the World Championships has been made possible by the support of sponsors The Pension Review Service and Franks Portlock Consultants, who have helped fund her travel and accommodation, as well as training costs.