Martial artists kick on at college
A college academy offering dedicated training in the martial art of taekwondo has produced a British champion within months of opening.
Jordan Davies, from Filton College's Bristol Academy of Sport, took a gold medal at the British Student Taekwondo Federation championships after winning four fights against opponents up to eight years older than she is.
Jordan, 16, said: "I want to train harder and harder. I know what it is like to win and I want to keep that feeling. This has meant so much to me, and my parents are really proud."
Mark Jones, a coach on the taekwondo programme, said her success - just five months after the academy opened - had come even sooner than they had hoped.
"To achieve this within five months is a credit to the students and the coaches, as well as the team based at the taekwondo academy," he said. "Our aim was to produce British, European and world champions within five years.
"To take the squad to this level of competitiveness in only the second competition was an achievement in itself."
Jordan was not the only martial arts expert at the academy to shine at the contest in Nottingham. Adam Pile, aged just 14, took a silver medal after beating opponents aged 22 and 24; while 17-year-old Sean Lemoir, a former amateur boxer, took bronze for the college.
Mr Jones said: "To come away with a gold, silver and bronze was an outstanding result. It has raised the drive and focus of our students, who want to achieve more success and to compete at any level. We have learnt so much about the spirit and personalities in the squad and are very pleased with the progress of each and every one of them."
Taekwondo is claimed to be the world's most popular martial art, with more than 60 million practitioners. It is a style of unarmed combat that originated in Korea. Under Olympic rules, taekwondo is a full contact sport. Competitors score points over three two-minute rounds with kicks or punches to the body, or kicks to the head.
The academy is one of several sports programmes run by Filton College that allow students to train intensively for about 16 hours a week, while keeping up their academic or vocational studies on any of the college's courses. It now recruits 500 potential elite athletes every year, in sports ranging from table tennis to basketball.
The college says the academy is unique in offering a dedicated programme for the Korean martial art within further education. Students also learn about the Korean language and about the country's art as part of their training.
Kevin Hamblin, the college principal, has pledged to use the academy to build a team for the London Olympic Games in 2012. In recognition of its facilities, the pound;17.5 million campus, which is home to the Bristol Academy of Sport, has been chosen to host the UK Student Open Championships in taekwondo in October this year.