Martial artists bring back medal haul

A MARTIAL arts team from Lyde Green is celebrating after its members won 12 medals at a national tournament.

Students from Fishponds Taekwondo Academy, which moved to the area two years ago, took part in the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) competition in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

The team returned with four gold, four silver and four bronze medals in the sport’s patterns and sparring junior and adult categories.

Instructor Gavin Reader, who is a 3rd degree Black Belt in the Korean-based martial art, said he was proud of the students’ achievements.

Gavin, who has worked as a paramedic and is a project manager for the NHS, said: “It takes courage to take part in a competition and I’m proud of the work they put in.

“It’s lovely to return with so many medals.

“But more importantly, they followed the Taekwondo tenets of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit.”

Several students from the club also acted as umpires at the event, following training to ensure they were up to date with the rules, regulations and latest technical aspects of the art. 

Instructor Simon Herrington, who has achieved the rank of 3rd degree Black Belt, has been an umpire for numerous competitions.

He said: “It’s a great event to get involved in – be it as a competitor, umpire, referee or spectator – and see people perform at such a high standard.

“Several of our members have acted as umpires, including one of our students who is just 16 years old. Taekwondo promotes discipline and focus from a young age.”

Gavin and Simon, who works as a senior project manager, took up the martial art, which emphasises fast kicking techniques and is said to promote physical and mental strength, 11 and eight years ago respectively.

They were both encouraged to join when their young daughters signed up.

Dad-of-three Gavin said: “We pride ourselves on being a family-friendly club and have many siblings train together, as well as parents and their children.”

Taekwondo is reputed to improve balance, flexibility, stamina, strength and posture, help develop confidence, self-esteem and resilience.  

The group trains at Lyde Green Community Centre every Wednesday and Friday.

For more information, contact Gavin on 07500 764276, visit or the group’s Facebook or Instagram pages.

Angela Belassie