Perse martial artists set for Taekwon-do World Cup

Lulu Harding (centre) and Rebecca Alexander (right) with instructor Mirfet Hassan-Spiller

Lulu Harding (Year 11) and Rebecca Alexander (Year 9) will aim to strike for success at the ITF Taekwon-Do World Cup in Slovenia this week.

The Perse pupils will be representing Cambridge Taekwon-Do in the competition in Koper, with both competing in the girls’ 12-14 black tag section – the category below black belt in the Korean martial art.

Both will be participating across three disciplines – sparring, patterns, in which competitors aim to demonstrate their mastery of multiple techniques, and special technique, where they try to use jumping kicks to hit a board suspended at increasing heights off the ground.

They took up taekwon-do as part of a Perse Prep after-school club, run by Cambridge Taekwon-Do lead instructor Mirfet Hassan-Spiller, who will be coaching them at the World Cup.

She said: “The World Cup is a huge event and requires a great deal of commitment and organisation from all parties involved, coaches, competitors and parents.

“The small Cambridge Taekwon-Do team of six delegates entered, of which Lulu and Rebecca make up two members, have consistently proved successful at national competitions. In July, Lulu and Rebecca both achieved Gold in their respective sparring age/weight categories and Rebecca winning Silver in patterns, beaten by Lulu who got the Gold as they were in the same patterns category.

“This is the world stage. The number of competitors in their categories is huge, with almost 50 other young females hoping to take home one of only 3 medals. All will be of very high standard and would have also put in the hours to get this far.

“Whatever the outcome from this week, they do and always will make us very proud. We wish them the best of luck and we will be there with them all the way.”

Both Perse pupils have different tastes within the sport, with Lulu specialising in sparring and Rebecca preferring patterns.

Lulu said: “Sparring can be really brutal because it’s hit or be hit. We don’t wear the chest pads used in Olympic taekwondo, so you’ve got to concentrate, but I really enjoy it.”

Meanwhile, Rebecca said: “Patterns are a series of techniques that tend to be used as self-defence and they’re all put together in a sequence. It’s not as aggressive as sparring, it’s very calm and technical.

“You’re given a pattern you have to perform at the same time as another competitor and the judges choose who wins based on who performs it most powerfully and technically accurate.”

Both pupils are excited about having the chance to take part in the World Cup and hope to do themselves justice.

Lulu said: “This is the first time anyone from the club has gone to a World Cup, so there’s no pressure to live up to or standard that’s expected as it’s the biggest thing we’ve ever done.

“We are just going to enjoy the experience and take the opportunity, but I still want to give it a go and if I win a medal, that would be the best thing ever.”

Rebecca added: “It’s nerve-racking because I’ve never done anything like this before and a lot of other countries are competing, but hopefully it will be a good experience and I’ll learn a lot for future competitions.”

You can keep up to date on the progress of Lulu and Rebecca at the ITF World Cup live stream.

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