TWO young taekwondo players have won their way into the Great Britain Taekwondo Cadet Development team after successfully completing arduous trials in Manchester.

Katie Bone, 14, from Willington, and Joshua Long, 11, from Spennymoor, are both looking forward to their big chance on the international stage in various European competitions. They both train up to six times a week at the Chi Taekwondo Academy in Spennymoor Leisure Centre under the guidance of head coach Russell Shaw, 4th Dan and his son, senior fight coach, Ben Shaw, 3rd Dan.

Katie took up taekwondo at the age of seven after visiting the leisure centre with her father, Jason. Josh also took up the sport aged seven after going with his mother, Allison to watch his elder sister, Kaitlyn, train. Both Katie and Josh have now reached black belt standard, having progressed through white, yellow, green, blue and red belts.

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It was only in 2013 that Katie decided to enter competitions. A run of five consecutive defeats in her first fights could have put Katie off taekwondo. However, showing determination to succeed, she said: “I decided to leave competitions to put everything into my training. This worked perfectly for me! When I returned to competitive fighting at the age of 12, victories followed.”

The Parkside Academy pupil won a bronze medal at the Cadet British Nationals last September. She went on to win gold at this year’s Taekwondo Chungdoqwan Great Britain Nationals in the junior division and gold in the tenth International Friendship Championships, both held in Reading.

Josh, who will start Whitworth Park Secondary School next month, said: “I was very nervous before my first fight at Doncaster, but I knocked my opponent out in the first ten seconds. Later, I was injured in training but quickly recovered and have done quite well.”

This was a modest way of saying that he had won a bronze in his first national competition, followed by numerous medals in competitions around the country.

He won his first gold this year in Dewsbury at the Ultimate Open. His latest success being a silver medal in his first ever event in the Cadet section at Nottingham.

Both were quick to acknowledge that their reasons for success are the time and cash commitments made by their parents, followed up by the quality coaching at the club. They hope to represent England at this year’s Commonwealth Championship in November.

Josh’s mother, Allison, and Katie’s father, Jason, are delighted with the way that attending the club has developed their children. Both pointed out how confidence and readiness to accept responsibility had increased.

Josh and Katie regularly travel to the home of Great Britain Taekwondo to train under the national coaches. Their progress is overseen by Sarah Stevenson, a former World Champion, Olympic bronze medallist and the most successful female athlete in British Taekwondo.

Shaw, who has been a full time martial arts instructor for 26 years said: “These two students are wonderful adverts for the Club. Josh showed a natural talent from the start. He is a dedicated trainer and takes exercise routines home to increase his ability.

“Katie has progressed massively over the last year because of her total commitment. However both have heart and train so positively that I’m sure they will both go along way in the sport.

“Taekwondo teaches players to be humble and improves their lifestyles. Anyone of any age who is interested in giving the sport a try can come along to Spennymoor Leisure Centre on any weekday evening.”