Today marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2020. To celebrate, we thought we would take this time to introduce you all to some of our National Para-Poomsae Squad members, and share some of their amazing achievements!
Please take the time to get to know our Para-Poomsae squad, who you will be seeing lots more of throughout 2020!
Theo Matthews – P20 Male Athlete
Theo is 12 years of age. He was born with a rare unbalanced chromosome rearrangement, talipes (clubfoot) and a VSD (hole in heart). He spent the first part of his life in and out of hospital, and he had numerous operations including open heart surgery on his 6th birthday to close the hole in his heart.
Theo was only five years old when he fell in love with Taekwondo and he gained his blackbelt in December 2019. Theo trains at Pejic Taekwondo Academy, Chesterton, Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Over the years Theo has suffered from high anxiety, he likes his routines and is unable to manage his emotions appropriately, but in taekwondo none of this shows, he does not worry or stress about gradings or taking part in competitions. It is what he loves to do and is so happy when performing his Poomsae patterns.
Theo entered his very first competition, at a week’s notice, at the Poomsae National Championships in Nottingham in December 2017 and won Silver. He then entered the KTA 2nd Mayor Cup Open Poomsae Championships 2018 and won Gold and also achieved Gold at the British Taekwondo International Championships 2018.
Theo was selected for the GB National Para-Poomsae Squad 2018 in March 2018 under the P20 category, another fantastic achievement within such a short period.
On 30th May 2018 Theo was presented with a Special Achievement Award by Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council for his hard work and dedication to his favourite sport.
Kieran Wroe – P20 Male Athlete
Kieran’s Taekwondo journey began at the age of 6. Kieran was diagnosed with Autism at 3 and ADHD at 6. The initial reason for joining Taekwondo was to help manage Kieran’s behaviour and provide him with a positive outlet for his vigorous personality. Now at the age of 14, Kieran has accomplished so much including gaining his black belt 2nd Dan in 2018 and attending the Para Poomsae World Championship in 2019 returning with a silver medal. He is hoping to attempt his 3rd Dan black belt grading soon. Becoming a member of the Para Poomsae GB team increased Kieran’s confidence, focus and improved his concentration skills in an immense way. Taekwondo has improved his self-esteem and provided him with the ability to challenge himself, whilst, responding positively to any challenges he faces.
Thomas Wroe – P20 Male Athlete
Thomas’s Taekwondo journey began at the age of 5. Thomas was diagnosed with epilepsy at 18 months old. The seizures and medication affected Thomas’s development, in particular retaining information in his short-term memory. Thomas was diagnosed with autism at age 4 and he struggles with anxiety. For many years, Thomas did not have the confidence to engage with other students. Gradually, with persistence and in the inclusive and supportive environment Taekwondo provides, Thomas’s progression is gradually improving. Thomas is now 13, and he is a black tag. Thomas’s confidence has grown since joining the Para GB team in 2017. When Thomas attends a Taekwondo competition, he is achieving so much just by entering the building. However, to watch him compete, in a crowded environment, is something I would never have dreamt possible, if it wasn’t for Taekwondo.
Olivia Wroe – P20 Female Athlete
Olivia joined Taekwondo at the age of 4. Olivia was diagnosed with autism at 4 years old when we discovered she had Chromosome 2p Deletion Syndrome, which effects her learning and behaviour. Olivia, has always been forthcoming, loud and outspoken. Olivia has a great passion for Taekwondo, especially Poomsae. She loves to practise, constantly. She will practice anywhere! in a queue for an ice-cream, in the middle of a shop or on her trampoline in the rain. Olivia is now 8 years old and has gained her blue belt. Olivia is very free willed and she struggles to accept direction. However, Taekwondo has helped Olivia improve on her listening skills, and it has helped her to Chanel her heightened energy levels in a positive way. Olivia was very excited when she joined the GB Para Poomsae team in 2019. She loves taking part in the training sessions and competing, in inclusive competitions.
Bradley Brockies – P20 Male Athlete
Bradley is 16 years old and has been involved in Taekwondo for nearly 8 years. He is a 2nd Dan black belt and is a 2x World Champion and 2x European Champion (P20 Junior)!
Ben Savage – P20 Male Athlete
Ben has been doing taekwondo since he was 14 years old. He has achieved a gold medal in the Cps Games in Nottingham and silver medal in Poland in the European para competition 2016. Ben came 5th in the 2017 London world championships, has achieved Gold medals in UK nationals & International competitions and has competed in the 2019 Turkey & Italy European Championships. Ben has also achieved bronze & silver in DOE.
Ben said “having a disability doesn’t stop you from achieved your dreams as I have earned my 2nd Dan in 2018 & hoping to get my 3rd dan next year!”
Gabrielle Toas – P20 Female Athlete
Gabrielle’s main achievement in taekwondo was travelling to Turkey for the World championships and to the Dutch Open. Taekwondo is brilliant for those with disabilities as it improves co-ordination, balance and fitness levels as well as improving emotional well-being by increasing confidence and self esteem. She has made so many friends in the taekwondo world.
Mauzzam Ahmad – P20 Male Athlete
Mauzzam Ahmad is a 3rd Dan blackbelt. He has won some medals in competitions. Outside of taekwondo, Mauzzam is participating in his gold award of DofE. He already has successfully achieved a bronze and silver award.
Samantha Carrington P33 Female Athlete
Samantha Carrington began her Taekwondo journey at the age of 18. She is a 4th Dan black belt, double world champion and European champion, as well as national champion over many years. Samantha also competed in the 2014 commonwealth games in Scotland and is the para-captain for the GB squad! Taekwondo has allowed Samantha to improved her flexibility, confidence, balance and co-ordination.
Farah Yasin – P50 Female Athlete
Farah Yasin started taekwondo in October 2014 and entered her first poomsae competition in 2017. Farah has competed in multiple British Taekwondo National Poomsae Championships and successfully became a blackbelt in November 2019.
Farah was highly commended in the disability sportsperson category at the Bradford Sports Awards March 2018, won the disability sportswoman category at Bradford Sports Awards March 2019 and also won the disability sportsperson category at Bradford Sports Awards in March 2020.
Nicola Russell – P50 Female Athlete
Nicola Russell earnt my 1st Dan in 2011 at Graham’s Academy in Portsmouth. Nicola was not physically disabled when she started Taekwondo nor when she reached 1st Dan. She was having issues with my mental health and Taekwondo gave me the chance to finally believe in myself.
Nicola moved to Scotland in 2011 and her health deteriorated to the point that she is now unable to walk. She was diagnosed with hemidystonia, which affects the left side of her body.
After trying a few sports, her heart lay with Taekwondo. Finding a club provide difficult, however In January 2020 she finally found Elite Martial Arts Academy in East Kilbride and was able to train with them and is now working towards her 2nd Dan.
In January 2020 Nicola competed in her first competition at the GB Open and won Gold for Team GB in P50. She also won Gold at the Scottish Championships and Harrogate Championships.
Nicola said “Taekwondo is a personal journey. Many focus on the end goal of black belt when in fact it is just a new part of the journey.
When I started training again it was hard, I kept seeing all the things I could no longer do, like kick. With time I started seeing all the things I still can do and have learnt to adapt where needed. I have had to relearn all my poomsae and whilst my brain still wants me to kick, I accept I can’t and do the best I can.
Never compare your journey to anyone else just be the best you can”.
Dexter Weldin – P40 Male Athlete
Dexter’s main activity is Taekwondo, although he’s a member of a boys contemporary dance group and plays football too! He is also a Cub Scout, and often manages to combine Taekwondo in his cubs, with badges or performances.
The dance i think was inspired by seeing the freestyle Poomsae, which given the chance he would love to do.
Dexter has come a long way from a white belt at age 4, he is now 8-years old and has successfully achieved his Blue Tag, working towards his Blue Belt and hoping to achieve his Black Belt.
He went up to watch the 2017 World Para Championship in London only months after starting Taekwondo, where he met Amy Truesdale and also formed a strong bond with the Croation Para team (mainly Ivan Mikulic). This inspired him.
He took part in his first competition in January 2020 (aged 7),with the GB poomsae squad, which although the rest of us were very nervous about, he seemed to take it all in his stride, gaining a gold medal.
He took part in an online poomsae comp during lockdown, and came 1st gaining a medal, dobok, certificate and badge from Ireland.
Sophie his Mum said “I think it’s fair to say he’s extremely determined and knows no limitations! Nothing holds him back and nothing is out of bounds, he wants to do and try everything and at the club I make sure he does, even sparring with myself”.
If you’re reading this and wondering why you’re not already involved with our Para-Poomsae squad, don’t miss out on your chance! Make sure you register your interest to attend our next training session online on Saturday 19th December 2020!
If you wish to attend this session and train with us, or would like a little more information, please contact us at [email protected], we would love to hear from you!
Deadline to register for our next training session is tomorrow (4th December) at 6pm!
If you are interested in getting to know the GB Taekwondo Kyorugi Para Squad, click here!
Interested in joining the squad? Click here to find out more as GB Taekwondo launch their talent search!