Aaliyah’s off to Olympics

Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE -

HUD­DER­S­FIELD Taek­wondo ace Aaliyah Pow­ell has been se­lected for the Youth Olympics in Ar­gentina in Oc­to­ber.

The Games run from Oc­to­ber 6 to 18 and Shel­ley Col­lege stu­dent Aaliyah will be aim­ing to fight her way to glory – just as Olympic great Jade Jones did at the same event eight years ago.

Jones, 17 when she won her gold medal in Sin­ga­pore, has gone on to be­come dou­ble Olympic cham­pion and reign­ing world num­ber one.

Four years later, Chris­tian McNeish and Abi­gail Stones won a pair of bronze medals when the Games were hosted in China. Lon­doner McNeish is presently the reign­ing Euro­pean cham­pion and has won three other tour­na­ments in 2018.

So, while there is ex­pec­ta­tion on Aaliyah and Team GB team­mate Sharissa Gan­n­away from Southamp­ton, to at­tain podium fin­ishes in South Amer­ica, the pair are more than ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing medals.

Aaliyah fought off tough com­peti­tors from the Philippines, Viet­nam and Rus­sia be­fore go­ing on to beat Thai­land’s Kan­rawee Som­pan in the Ju­nior World Cham­pi­onship fi­nal ear­lier this year.

She also col­lected a sil­ver medal at the 2017 Ju­nior Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship, los­ing the fi­nal against her Rus­sian op­po­nent only on tech­ni­cal su­pe­ri­or­ity af­ter the match ended tied.

“I’m ex­cited to make the team for the Youth Olympics,” said the Quest Taek­wondo Club mem­ber.

“Of course, I want to em­u­late Jade’s suc­cess but we are very dif­fer­ent ath­letes.

“How­ever, know­ing, this is where they have made their name is great. But it’s not re­ally sunk in yet that I have been se­lected.”

Sharissa, who com­petes for Bri­tish Taek­wondo Schools in Southamp­ton, also won a Ju­nior Euro­pean sil­ver medal last au­tumn.

She added two more sec­ond places this year at the US and Dutch Opens be­fore mak­ing it fourth time lucky at the Lux­em­bourg Open.

“I was buzzing when I found out I had been se­lected for the Youth Olympics,” she said.

“It was great to qual­ify the spot ear­lier this year but you can’t get too ex­cited in case you might not go. But when you fi­nally get con­fir­ma­tion it’s great.”

The ath­letes will also be joined by 62 ath­lete role mod­els in Ar­gentina, whose pri­mary func­tion will be to sup­port, ad­vise and in­spire the young ath­letes.

Jade Jones will be in­cluded in the mix as well as four-time Olympian and Rio 2016 gold medal­ist He­len Richard­son-Walsh.

Buenos Aires beat off com­pe­ti­tion from Medellin in Colom­bia and Glas­gow to win the Games which also fea­ture karate and judo as well as oth­ers in­clud­ing dance­s­port, fut­sal, roller speed skat­ing and sport climb­ing.

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