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Family fortunes-Mancunian Elias follows sister onto international stage

4th October 2021

A Manchester teenager whose sister previously fought for her country has been selected by GB Taekwondo for next month’s European Junior Championships in Sarajevo.

Elias Asef from Cheetham Hill is one of 15 promising fighters named for the tournament in Bosnia and Herzegovina from November 12-15.

Former development squad member Maria Asef was one of the first to hear of her younger brother’s international recognition.

“My sister was very proud and congratulated me when she found out I had been selected,” he said.

“She told me to concentrate on each match, one by one and to try my hardest in each round.

“I can’t wait to compete at the Euros and put in the best performance I possibly can.”

Elias, a bronze medallist at the 2018 European Cadet Championships, eventually hopes to follow fellow Mancunians, Michael Harvey and Jordan Gayle into the senior ranks.

Harvey, now a GB Taekwondo coach, is a one-time European gold medallist, World Championship silver medallist and an Olympian at Beijing 2008. Gayle fought at the 2015 Worlds and won Open titles in Holland, Belgium, Serbia and Turkey.

Elias, who like Harvey and Gayle fights at -68kg, is a member of the Taekwondo Machine club based at the National Taekwondo Centre in Newton Heath.

“My preparation has gone very well so far,” he confirmed. “But I make sure I balance my education with my Taekwondo.

“I complete my homework and revision which then allows to me train in the evening at Taekwondo Machine without having to worry about schoolwork. That way I am 100 percent focussed on training.”

Teammate Josh Tobin hopes to make up for lost time. He was selected for last year’s World Junior Championships in Bulgaria that were ultimately cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“To finally be competing internationally again is a fantastic feeling,” said the Lancashire youngster. “I am beyond honoured and proud to have been selected again.

“Taekwondo has given me unforgettable opportunities and I can’t imagine my life without it. There is no better feeling than putting that headguard on.

“I can’t wait to use the competition as a chance to develop myself further as an athlete, competing with some of the best in Europe. I’m going to leave everything on the mats.”

Phoenix Goodman from Southampton was another athlete named for last year’s World Juniors but unable to fight.

“I was devastated about that,” admitted the LMC Taekwondo club member.

“So, to be recognised for another major and to get the opportunity to represent GB brings back all the excitement and pride I felt then.

“I also feel privileged to be in the position where I can represent my country doing what I love,” said Phoenix who has been mentored by former GB international, Max Cater in addition to his role with the Development Squad.

“Some of the biggest benefits I receive from training with the GB development squad are training with talented athletes who want the best for each other.

“Training alongside other hard-working athletes in a competitive environment, I find myself improving because there is always someone wanting to push you.

“My family are over the moon to hear I’ve been selected for the European Championships because they know how hard I train and how much I want this.

“They are my biggest supporters. So, to hear I’ve been recognised to represent GB, they burst with pride for me. I am beyond excited to get back in the ring because do I love it.”

As for Fighting Chance graduate, Jodie McKew, her preparation for this event has proven to be a little different from her teammates.

“I’m fortunate to call myself a fulltime athlete who gets to train with some of the best athletes and coaches in the world and have previously competed at the senior European Championships too.

“It feels amazing to be selected especially since the Junior World Championships cancellation, this is such a great opportunity and I’ll go out there and do the best that I can.”

Team:

FEMALES:

-42kg: Elouise Murray (Doncaster)

-46kg: Phoenix Goodman (Southampton)

-49kg: Latisha Garbett (Doncaster)

-55kg: Jodie McKew (Dollingstown, Northern Ireland)

-59kg: Neve McPhillie (East Kilbride)

-63kg: Beth Christy (Wrexham)

-68kg: Adele Williamson (Elgin)

+68kg: Amy Bone (Willington Crook)

MALES:

-45kg: Owen Blunt (Doncaster)

-51kg: Zack Sarsoza (Fulham)

-55kg: Kevin Booth (Liverpool)

-59kg: Jacob Fairhead (Farnham)

-63kg: Josh Tobin (Burscough)

-68kg: Elias Asef (Manchester)

-78kg: Danyaal Butt (Glasgow)

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