British Nationals 2018

Megan Hayhurst, 11, won the coveted title in the -40kg category at the Taekwondo national championships at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

“It was a very close final but when the judge raised his hand towards me to show that I’d won I just shook my opponent’s hand then jumped for joy,” she said.

“I was a bit nervous before the event but it was great to win it and my parents and coach were really pleased.”

The accolade follows Megan’s bronze in last year’s event, and coach Steve Grabek said it was just reward for her tireless efforts in training and competition this year.

Megan took up Taekwondo at the age of seven after a family friend suggested she give it a go, and hasn’t looked back since then.

She now trains three times a week and is hoping for more success next year when she moves up to the sport’s Cadet class.

And she was not the only local competitor to achieve success at the two day, full contact event, which involved more than 700 athletes from all over the country.

Despite taking a small team of just five to Sheffield, all representatives of the local club performed superbly, taking home four medals.

Megan’s training partner and best friend Rebecca Battista, 12, of Kendal, picked up a bronze in the -55kg Cadets category in her first attempt at that level.

And the Hayhurst family success story was almost continued by Megan’s brother Thomas, eight, who narrowly missed out on a medal position after a quarter final defeat on golden point in the one of the most contended categories, the pee wees +26kg.

Both Megan, Thomas and Rebecca have enjoyed a run of success in recent months, with all three winning their categories at the Welsh Championships and each of the trio earning silver medals at the Scottish Championships.

Megan said she wanted to thank her coach and also Olympic athletes and world champions Aaron Cook and Bianca Walkden, who had helped in their training and preparation for the event, as well as her main sponsors BillerudKorsnas of Beetham.

Mr Grabek said all the medal winners had worked hard for their success and he was delighted their efforts had been rewarded.

“The dedication the girls have shown to their training is phenomenal and it’s really paying off,” he said.

“They are only young but they have dreams and know what they want to achieve in Taekwondo and are willing to work hard to get there.

“We have some rising stars and we are really proud of everyone’s achievements this weekend.”