Taek­wondo teen off to world champs

The Horowhenua Mail - - FRONT PAGE - KAROLINE TUCKEY

Grow­ing up as part of a rolling, tum­bling sports-mad fam­ily has pro­pelled one teen to­ward in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion in taek­wondo.

Shan­non teen Janae Whaka­rau, 14, is one of 10 sporty sib­lings, and is part of the New Zealand team to com­pete at the in­ter­na­tional taek­wondo fed­er­a­tion cham­pi­onships in Ire­land in Oc­to­ber.

She says her love of mar­tial arts stems from see­ing her older twin sis­ters in classes. Her dad was a pro­fes­sional rugby player who played in Spain, and her mum and four other sib­lings also do taek­wondo.

While they some­times spar to­gether, they don’t get the chance as of­ten as they’d all like, Janae says. She also man­ages to fit in train­ing and matches for age­group rep teams in bas­ket­ball, net­ball and touch.

‘‘I just love the games. It’s just re­ally fun and keeps me ac­tive, and you get to go to com­pe­ti­tions.’’

Not shy of full-on com­mit­ment, Janae has one of the busiest com­pe­ti­tion sched­ules in the Kiwi con­tin­gent. As an in­di­vid­ual, she will line up in spar­ring, break­ing, spe­cial tech­niques, and all three events again, in a team.

‘‘When I saw how many events I was do­ing I was cry­ing. I was re­ally stoked.’’

Janae has been both the re­gional and na­tional age-group champ for three years run­ning, as well as the un­der-18 champ for the past two years, and Ocea­nia cham­pion for the past two in­stal­ments of the bi­en­nial com­pe­ti­tion. She holds a ju­nior black belt, and will sit grad­ing for her full black belt later this year.

‘‘Taek­wondo is hard. It some­times gets bor­ing be­cause you do the same thing over and over, but it’s good prac­tis­ing it. I love break­ing boards a lot – that’s fun.

‘‘My in­struc­tor, I train with him six days a week, and he pushes me quite hard, and got me to where I am to­day.’’

Janae’s sis­ter Shanea, 22, will also com­pete for New Zealand at the world cham­pi­onships in Oc­to­ber, and Janae and her fam­ily are fundrais­ing to pay for the trip, in­clud­ing run­ning a Con­trac­tor’s Ball, on Au­gust 19 (tick­ets from of­fice@hes­earth­mov­ing.co.nz).

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/STUFF

Janae Whaka­rau, 14, is train­ing to com­pete in the taek­wondo world cham­pi­onships, in Ire­land.

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