Taekwondo: Alex gets a touch of ‘black’ magic

Leeds schoolgirl Alex Turner with some of the trophies she has won at taekwondo.
Leeds schoolgirl Alex Turner with some of the trophies she has won at taekwondo.
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Netball, rounders or swimming – perhaps three traditional sports that your average 10-year-old girl would be in to.

Not Leeds youngster Alex Turner – who is thought to be the country’s youngest black belt under two codes of taekwondo.

Turner, who has only just turned 10, gained her first black belt aged seven under the sport’s light-contact ICTF code.

However, a dream to follow in the footsteps of Doncaster world champion and Olympic bronze medallist Sarah Stevenson inspired Turner to learn the Olympic WTF discipline with another black belt in that code awarded earlier this year.

Such are Turner’s tender years that even the 2016 Rio Olympics are likely to come too soon with the 2020 Games her ultimate ambition, for which a venue is yet to be decided out of Istanbul, Tokyo, Baku, Doha and Madrid.

In the meantime, Year 5 student Turner is soldering on with her studies at Scholes-in-Elmet Primary – where, unsurprisingly, she commands a fair bit of respect!

“My friends at school think it’s really good,” said Turner of her black belt achievements.

“And when we play football, if somebody does something wrong or cheats and they see me they sort of run away!

“I started doing taekwondo when I was four and when I saw Sarah get a bronze medal at the Olympics I just thought ‘I want to do that’.

“I was seven and a half when I saw that and now I am aiming for the Olympics in 2020. That would be amazing but I wouldn’t be fazed.”

And why would she? The Scholes youngster achieved her first black belt within three years and her second in just two.

The ascension from white to yellow, to green, to blue, to red, to black tag and ultimately black belt has proved no trouble at all.

Turner’s first artistic fling actually came in ballet but for this diminutive competitor, elegant dancing was never going to work.

“I used to do ballet when I was four but I didn’t like it!” she recalled.

“It was like little dances going ‘one, two, three’ – it was boring!

“They had classes for taekwondo at school and I was just drawn to it.

“It was better than ballet and I liked the fighting – picturing it as up against your arch enemy!”

It’s little wonder given that approach that Turner has already scooped 17 medals and trophies with the highlight being a bronze at this year’s European Junior Championships in Germany, which featured some 900 competitors.

The National Championships at Manchester Velodrome in September are next on the agenda for Turner – an event in which competitors come to from afar as Iraq and Poland.

Explaining the aims of taekwondo, Turner said: “The aim is to get a kick to the head.

“A normal kick to the head is three points and like a reverse turnaround kick to the head is four points.

“Sometimes you get it where if it is a mismatch or your opponents is too tired then they throw a towel in. I’ve had that a few times and that makes me pleased.”

Plenty more will surely throw in the towel as Turner’s rise in the sport continues under the guidance of former Olympic coach Gary Sykes and his All Star classes at the Doncaster Dome.

Sykes was responsible for coaching Beijing bronze medallist Stevenson, who is predicting big things for Turner in the years ahead.

“Alex has come on leaps and bounds since joining my home club in Doncaster,” she said.

“To reach her black belt in such a short space of time is amazing.

“Alex has this strength in her and this determination that just oozes out of her.”

As does a fair degree of modesty, Turner shrugging off her achievements and her commitment to her sport as merely run of the mill.

“I think it’s normal what I do but I’m proud,” she said. “And I’m not that busy as I just do taekwondo and school.

“I just like to play out with my friends as well. I used to do basketball but I didn’t really like it.

“Taekwondo is my number one.”

A sport likely to be synonymous with Turner’s name in the years to come.

Kyle Bartley

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