FOR MOST people, winning a silver medal whilst representing your country at the Commonwealth Games would be the pinnacle of their career. Yet for 12-year-old Alex Turner it is likely just the beginning.
Turner, who lives in Scholes, bagged the runners-up medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Taekwondo Championships recently, missing out on gold by just a single point.
And it represents another step closer to her ultimate ambition; winning an Olympic medal and replicating the career of her idol, Doncaster’s 2008 Olympic taekwondo bronze medallist Sarah Stevenson MBE. The youngster got into taekwondo through a local school and won her first black belt aged just seven. That led to her first encounter with GB athlete Stevenson, who she now trains with on a regular basis.
“She appeared on the Paul O’Grady show after earning her black belt and that was where she first met Sarah,” explained Turner’s father Nigel.
“Sarah also recommended going to Master Garry Sykes’ classes in Doncaster, which she attended in her youth and still does to this day. After her black belt win and some training in the Olympic style of taekwondo, she started entering and winning local competitions, including her own National Championships two years ago. I’ve lost count of how many medals and competitions she’s won, it must be in the region of 30-40 now. She’s won national competitions, she’s won all over really, including in Germany at the Junior European Championships.”
Following her Europeans success, the young star was inducted into the Great Britain Junior Squad, who she trains with in Manchester, and subsequently picked to represent England at the Commonwealth Games.
Turner narrowly fell short of the gold, managing to hold her opponent in the final for three rounds, before losing by a golden point, which works in the same style as football’s golden goal rule.
Nigel explained: “She competed against girls who are two years older than her, and the girl who beat her in the final has been competing at World, European and International level for the last few years. She won her semi-final 15-3, and her opponent was again a girl with much more experience than Alex. It just shows how far she’s come.”
Turner’s sights are now set on even more medals in 2015 – and all this while continuing to study at her school, Boston Spa Sports Academy. The star’s father says Turner’s school have been incredible in offering their support – and the proud dad hopes one day an Olympic medal will be the ultimate reward.
“It is difficult to juggle both school life and taekwondo,” admitted Nigel. “For these Commonwealths we went on the Friday and came back on the Monday. Her school, Boston Spa Sports Academy, support us really well. They’re fabulous, they are prepared to make sure she has the time to go to these competitions. Training is on midweek evenings, so the challenge is juggling training with homework and such. It’s quite a commitment. She’ll train three to four evenings a week, usually with some sort of competition at the weekend, on top of the fitness training she does herself. Her dream is 2020 in Tokyo, joining up with the full Olympic squad and you wouldn’t believe how proud me and her mum, Cathy, are of her. It’s one tough sport, taekwondo, it’s full contact and we are absolutely proud as punch.”
Alex is in need of sponsorship to help realise her dream. Anyone who can help should contact Cathy and Neil on 0113 260 8347.