Aaliyah’s off to Olympics
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.