Two members of Sasan Martial Arts Academy in Huddersfield – Aaliyah Powell and Charlotte Simpson – are celebrating medals at the Commonwealth Taekwondo Championships.
The girls, who were formally of Premier Taekwondo but are now with the Marsh-based Academy, were successful in Edinburgh, where athletes and coaches from 21 countries took part in the two-day event.
Aaliyah, 12, of Kirkburton Middle School and 11 year-old Charlotte, of Rastrick High School – both former British Champions – represented England and did splendidly to achieve international success.
Charlotte took bronze in the -55kg female cadet category, after missing out to an Australian fighter who was a much taller and older.
She put up a fantastic performance in the semi-final, which could have gone either way, and was leading the fight after two rounds. But she was knocked out of her stride when some contentious decisions went against her at the end of the second round and during the third.
The England coach commented in Charlotte’s feedback meeting: “Charlotte was awesome, and should not be disappointed after the performance she put up. It was a well-deserved medal.”
Aaliyah went one better in the -37kg female cadet category and, after breezing past her first opponent, she edged a tight semi-final against the current British Champion.
In the final, Aaliyah was only 20 seconds away from winning gold when a point was awarded to her Scottish opponent for a snap kick to the body.
This took the contest into a golden point round, when one mistake or piece of brilliance would either lose or win the gold.
Unfortunately, the Scottish fighter managed to throw a sneaky head shot which won the contest, leaving Aaliyah with an impressive silver.
Both Aaliyah and Charlotte had difficult times leading up to the Championships.
Aaliyah had a major operation only in June and has spent the rest of this year in the process of rehabilitation and trying to regain her fitness.
Charlotte had been suffering with a leg and foot condition, which started in February but was only diagnosed in July.
Both girls entered the National Championships in September and came away with silver medals, immediately earning their England call-ups.
The parents of Aaliyah and Charlotte are naturally proud.
“We are so pleased, proud and honoured that the England team recognised their talents and selected them to represent their country,” they said jointly in a statement.
“This alone was a massive and fantastic achievement, knowing our kids would be taking part and walking out at the opening ceremony. Winning a medal was beyond our wildest dreams, considering how young they both are, the fact they had started competing only 20 months ago and what they had gone through this year with their injuries.
“We would like thank the England Team coaches, their new coach Master Sasan, and Charlotte’s physio Garry Slade, for their input, training and conditioning of both.”